Failings At Cyngor Gwynedd Children And Families Dept.

Though the parents 2nd stage complaint against Cyngor Gwynedd Council showed serious failings within the Children and Families Department and was upheld by independent investigators in 2010 nothing has changed.

I have read through the report and noticed that many names involved back then are now ensconced as managers in Gwynedd social services, though it is not for me to say if these same people are now acting out of spite or have always been so unprofessional.

My experience working in the mental health field with dementia, learning difficulties, challenging behaviour and acquired brain injury was no use to me at all in this case and I was playing catch up for the first year learning about PDA, the boy’s complex needs and gaining his trust.

I stood back and watched as first the Council got in contact and after discussions agreed that support may be available and a social worker would be assigned. Everyone was wary because of the behaviour of social services in the past but it was agreed that help towards social skills and integration was more important.

A social worker was allocated and a support worker was granted. Unfortunately the support was still not provided and so in desperation a solicitor was contacted and only then was a support worker assigned.

The first social worker was replaced by a second , this time from Children and Families, as the disability team would not assess, due to the boy having too high an IQ. This social worker introduced himself as having no experience of Autism and was not a disability social worker but said he was there to help.

He did not endear himself to anyone over the next period by comments such as –

‘We are really doing the education departments job’

‘What to do you want a core assessment for? I don’t see what use it will be, can you explain to me how you think it will benefit *****? ‘

‘I’m a very busy man you know’ (when he failed to phone back)

‘This service is really for people that need a social worker’

But he was all my partner had to work with and the fact the boy was, finally, going to get help with socialisation and independent living skills was enough for me to still my misgivings and keep my professional mouth shut.

The help and support that eventually began was anything but.

Communication was poor and I mean mono-syllabic from the support worker when asked for feedback. One day he just grunted at me when I tried to engage him.
Different days different times and sessions that were arranged with less than 24 hours notice – and sessions were strictly on a take it or lose it basis.

The stress of dealing with this ‘care support’ had a knock on effect in dealing with other aspects of care and we all suffered for a period.

So a letter of complaint was sent to Support Services at Cyngor Gwynedd Children and Families Dept asking for continuity of times and reminding them that due to the boy’s complexities the family had no idea of where he was taken, what subjects were discussed or how he engaged with others if at all and simply a plea for feedback to help us to help him progress with socialisation.

It is called team work and every professional in the care field will recognise its importance for the child and family – except, it appears, at the Children and Families Department of Gwynedd council.

A letter was duly received apologising for blah blah blah and informing us that we had to ask the social worker to ask the support worker to communicate with us re the sessions !!!! But they did take on board our need for certain times to avoid clashing with the child’s education.

To be fair we were allowed the same time and day every week which removed so much stress and I am grateful for that. Imagine being grateful for a regular weekly slot from a children and families service(!) but I truly was.

The feedback from the support worker however did NOT materialise.
(Another social worker was asked further down the line again if we could have some feedback – again nothing)

In fact we did receive reports written by the support worker eventually. We asked Social Services for their file on the family and they were included. So much interesting information (and mis-information)  But that is for future posts.

My misgivings and worry about what I considered unprofessional and totally unacceptable behaviour turned to anger when I returned home and found my wife crying. She had had a phone conversation with the social worker which had caused her upset.

Then after I listened to the recording of the conversation I became quite upset, too.

A meeting between the social worker and my wife had been arranged but I wanted to be there for support so I emailed Cyngor Gwynedd Customer Care to raise my concerns about their social worker, Jamie Haydon and cancel the meeting.

My email and first contact with Cyngor Gwynedd Council was dated 29th Feb, 2016.

The Curious Case Of Mary Wynch.

Or Mary Winch – but what is in a name ?

I have previously mentioned the case of Mary Wynch. Mary made legal history by being the first person to sue for being wrongly detained under the Mental Health Act –Dr Dafydd Alun Jones was one of those whom she sued. Mary’s case received widespread media attention in the London based press when she won the case – such was the aggro that she received in north Wales that by then she had gone into hiding in Eastbourne. I contacted her via the ‘Guardian’ and met up with her. I think that Mary has probably died by now, so there are a number of outstanding questions that cannot be answered. I have been trying to research Mary’s case for some while but have had great trouble retrieving information. It’s almost as if there has been an attempt to airbrush this case from history. However my co-researcher has now managed to access some information, including a transcript from the appeal – Mary had to initially appeal to the Master of the Rolls Lord Donaldson for leave to sue Jones et al.

I first read about Mary’s case after it was reported in the broadsheets in 1985, after Lord Donaldson allowed her appeal. I had just had my first taste of bad behaviour on the part of the north Wales mental health services but had no idea of just how corrupt that they were at that point. Over the following few years I received very serious grief from them, so when I read at some point in the late 80s that Mary had won her case against Dafydd Alun Jones et al I was keen to speak to her.

Mary told me an even worse story than had appeared in the press. Despite the allegations of ‘madness’ that those we know and love threw at Mary she was actually very level headed and was acutely aware that she couldn’t make statements in press interviews that she did not have evidence for, so she never spoke in public about some very worrying matters. I will summarise what she told me here. Mary had lived in Caernarfon, worked as a secretary in the agriculture dept at Bangor University (known in those days as UCNW) and for a long while looked after her elderly mother. Mary had a sister whom she did not get on with. Mary told me that at one point her mother was in a care home owned by Jones. Mary was worried about the standard of care there – when her mother subsequently died, Mary was deeply concerned at the circumstances of her mother’s death. Mary’s worst fear was that her mother had died of an overdose that had been unlawfully administered. The story that Mary related to me was that when she saw her mother’s body, it was covered in blisters. Mary was later told that this could have been the sign of a barbiturate overdose. She talked at length of her deep frustration at never being able to prove this, although she was pretty sure that was what had happened. In the wake of her mother’s death there was a dispute between Mary and her sister over her mother’s estate. Mary described her sister as ‘evil’ and believed that her sister was in cahoots with both Dafydd Alun Jones and the solicitors whom Mary alleged had mishandled her mother’s estate. It seemed that Mary had encountered difficulties with a number of different local solicitors firms and she alleged that these solicitors were so closely linked that they effectively formed a ring. As a result of the dispute Mary was ordered to hand over certain documents but refused, as she believed that the law had been broken and corruption was at work. She was imprisoned for contempt of court and sent to the notoriously grim Risley Remand Centre. She was then declared to be suffering from ‘paranoia’ and was detained in the North Wales Hospital for a year. When Mary finally got out she started the tortuous process of suing Jones, Clwyd Health Authority, Dr Paul Bishop (a GP) and Dr Paul Hayward (the medical officer at Risley Remand Centre) and the Home Office. By the time that I met her, negligence had been admitted and press reports had stated that Mary had been awarded £27,5000 damages – but she told me that everyone involved was quibbling over actually paying the damages and that it looked as though she was going to have to go to Court again to enforce payment. Intriguingly, no more information about Mary’s case or indeed Mary appeared in the media, despite the huge media interest that there had been. I never saw Mary again and I never knew whether she did receive her damages or what the results of her outstanding legal cases against other parties involved with the mishandling of her case were. The lack of further media coverage was quite inexplicable. When I met Mary, as well as telling me about her suspicions and fears regarding her mother’s death, she told me that conditions in Denbigh were dreadful. Interestingly enough although Jones had been prescribing huge quantities of anti-psychotics for her, as with me the nurses did not suggest that she take it. Mary told me that her greatest challenge in Denbigh was not showing any emotion – she realised that these people were a law unto themselves and would leap on any excuse to demonstrate further ‘insanity’ and who knows what would happen to her. She also told me another interesting anecdote. That the ‘young people’s ward’ was visible from the ward where she was imprisoned. Every evening the staff from Mary’s ward would gather around the window and watch the activities in the young people’s ward – Mary explained that the staff told her that Jones encouraged the young people to have sex with each other and that the staff treated the action in the young people’s ward as a live sex show.

One thing that I remembered from the press reports was a statement that Mary had been a voluntary outpatient of Jones’s after her mother’s death. This claim also appears in the transcript from the appeal. Yet I got the distinct impression from Mary that she only encountered Jones when she was banged up in Denbigh. Now Jones lies, he lies under all circumstances and one thing that he lied about in my case was that he assessed me before ordering the police to take me to Denbigh. He did NOT see me beforehand and did not carry out any sort of ‘assessment’. I cannot now clarify anything with Mary, but I strongly suspect that Jones did not treat her as a voluntary outpatient. She believed that her sister, whom she did not get on with and suspecting of swindling her, was in cahoots with Jones, so I think it very unlikely that she was returning to see him as a voluntary outpatient. She spoke of how unpleasant he was when she met me, but she certainly didn’t speak about Jones in any way that suggested that she knew him as ‘her doctor’ – she barely remembered his name and referred to him as ‘the doctor at Denbigh’. As far as Mary was concerned, Jones was just one of many professional people who had done various things that they shouldn’t have. I note that the claim that Mary had been treated by Jones as a voluntary outpatient was central to the claim of him and his cronies that she was mentally ill – ie. that she had been ‘deeply affected’ by her mother’s death and had it was alleged that she had been referred to Dafydd by her GP. Even if the GP had made the referral this does not mean that Dafydd actually saw Mary. Dafydd cannot be believed and Mary is not here to ask, so this is one of the many unanswered questions about Mary’s case.

As well as appearing in the broadsheets and the Spectator, Mary’s case was also featured in the BBC Two series ‘Taking Liberties’ in an episode called ‘Who Will Listen To Mary Winch’ which was screened on March 5 1991. Readers will notice that in the title of this programme, Mary’s surname was spelt ‘Winch’, as it was in the other media reports and indeed on the Court papers. Yet in north Wales, Mary’s name was always spelt ‘Wynch’ and I seem to remember that this is how she signed her name on the letter to me when she agreed to meet me. This is yet another very odd thing about this case – although I knew from personal experience that Court documents are full of errors, including basic ones and serious ones.

After the BBC programme I never heard another thing about Mary either in the London based or north Wales media. Interest in her case disappeared overnight and I was been unable to gain any further information about it until my co-researcher came up with some gems a few days ago. He has dug out a brief potted history of Mary’s case that appeared in the Spectator and has also acquired a transcript of Mary’s appeal, which was heard on 9 July 1985 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London before Sir John Donaldson (Master of the Rolls), Lord Justice Parker and Lord Justice Balcombe. The case is listed as Mary Agnes Winch v Dr Dafydd Alun Jones, Clwyd Health Authority, representatives of the estate of Paul Eardley Hayward, Paul Manley Bishop, Home Office. John MacDonald and Colin Braham were instructed by B.M. Birnberg and Co for Mary and Jon Williams was instructed by dear old Hempsons (who else – the lawyers who act for the Medical Defence Union who have featured on this blog previously) on behalf of Dafydd Alun Jones and Paul Bishop and Christopher Symons was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the personal representatives of the estate of Paul Hayward and the Home Office. Mary appealed to the High Court for leave for two actions alleging negligence against 1. Dafydd Alun Jones and his employers Clwyd Health Authority 2. Against the late Paul Hayward and his employers the Home Office and Paul Bishop. Because all three of the doctors were purporting to be acting under the 1959 Mental Health Act, Mary had to apply for leave to bring actions against them. It is mentioned in the transcript that Mary had been previously refused leave by Justice Otten (elsewhere his name is spelt Otton).

The transcript states that Mary’s mother died in 1972 and that the Public Trustee administered her estate and subsequently brought an action against Mary and possibly also her sister. Mary was ordered to hand over certain documents and refused (Mary was alleging corruption and law breaking and also maintained that she had not been given the opportunity to attend a crucial court hearing.) Mary was sent to Risley Remand Centre for contempt of court by His Honour Vice-Chancellor Blackett-Ord. The committal was in October 1977 but Mary went into hiding so wasn’t actually arrested until July 1978. It is stated that in October 1978 Mary was discharged from Risley by order of Blackett-Ord to the North Wales Hospital Denbigh to the care of Dafydd Alun Jones, on Section 26 of the Mental Health Act 1959, which allowed her to be detained for up to 12 months. This was done on the recommendation of Hayward and Bishop, Hayward being the medical officer at Risley, Bishop being a GP. For 12 months Mary was subjected to section 26 ‘either in the North Wales Hospital or on leave’ (at no point did anyone or Mary ever suggest that she had been ‘on leave’ – it was stated at all times that she was banged up for 12 months). Mary’s case was that Hayward and Bishop failed to exercise ‘reasonable care in diagnosing her with paranoia’ and that Dafydd Alun Jones failed to exercise ‘reasonable care’ in considering her earlier release from the North Wales Hospital (I remember that a press report at the time stated that during the year in which she was in Denbigh, Jones did not visit Mary or review her case once). The transcript also mentions that Mary had consulted several solicitors and was now suing two of them for negligence. Her view was that all the solicitors that she consulted were conspiring to stifle her complaints. This was the first occasion that the Court had to consider an appeal regarding the Mental Health Act. The transcript stated that at the previous appeal Justice Otton had considered that Mary’s applications were not frivolous, vexatious nor an abuse of the process of the Court but that Mary hadn’t satisfied the Court regarding a prima facie case of negligence against each of the doctors. At Mary’s appeal to Lord Donaldson, Justice Parker stated that the case against Dafydd Alun Jones was ‘fit to be tried’, although this was ‘not so clear’ with regard to Hayward and Bishop. There is a Dr Fry mentioned in the transcript who seems to have provided an opinion on Mary at an earlier stage of her journey through the Courts. The transcript also makes reference to someone at some point providing evidence stating that ‘she has no insight into her condition and will break into the property she formerly owned and squat in it. She would not remain in hospital of her own accord’. Yet during the appeal it was noted that there is no evidence Miss Winch had ever broken into the property or squatted in it or had ever threatened to do so’. (So Mary had been the subject of ludicrous allegations and speculations for which there was no evidence and these allegations and speculations somehow had found their way into Court documents – this happened to me after I made complaint about the north Wales mental health services.) Justice Balcombe agreed that the appeal should be allowed. The transcript states that the case against Hayward and Bishop was based on Dr Fry’s evidence. John Macdonald submitted that Hayward and Bishop should have made enquiries of Jones and the Official Solicitor and that they did this.

Mary’s appeal was allowed with costs.

My co-researcher has dug up a few details of the ‘Taking Liberties’ programme screened by BBC Two on 5 March 1991. The producer was Rhonda Evans and the series producer was Elizabeth Clough, who until very recently was the wife of Jeremy Paxman. My co-researcher then discovered an Early Day Motion tabled on 19 March 1991, sponsored by David Bellotti, the LibDem MP for Eastbourne – ‘This House urges an immediate review by the Home Secretary of the gross injustices suffered by Miss Mary Winch, now resident in Eastbourne, and recorded in the BBC Two programme ‘Taking Liberties’ on Tuesday 5 March’. Six MPs signed this Motion: Alan Beith (Liberal Democrat, Berwick-Upon-Tweed), Malcolm Bruce (Liberal Democrat, Gordon), Ronnie Fearn (Liberal Democrat, Southport), Geraint Howells (Liberal Democrat, Ceredigion and Pembroke North), Matthew Taylor (Liberal Democrat, Truro and St Austell) and Dafydd Wigley (Plaid Cymru, Caernarfon).

My co-researcher has also dug up something very interesting from Hansard. On 31 March 1993, Alex Carlile asked the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor’s Dept, to order a full investigation into Mary’s case and was asked when there was going to be a reply to letters concerning Mary’s case dated June 1991, August 1991, September 1991, October 1991 and May 1992. John M. Taylor replied that Mary had taken legal action against the Public Trustee which had not yet concluded and he wouldn’t comment because proceedings were before the Courts. At this point I thought that the trail had gone cold – despite so much concern being expressed at what had happened to Mary, there were no more mentions of her again in the media. But late last night I received another e mail from my co-researcher who had found something in Hansard, 27 April 1995. It is recorded that Alex Carlile asked the Parliamentary Secretary Lord Chancellor’s Department if he would make a statement on the actions of the Public Trustee in relation to legal proceedings brought by Miss Phoebe Winch (once more Mary Agnes Wynch’s name was misrecorded).  John M. Taylor replied that he was unable to comment on individual cases where legal proceedings have been brought against the Public Trustee, who was also Chief Exec of the Public Trust Office. Taylor commented that she was also ‘an independent statutory office holder’ and ‘decisions that she takes in exercise of her statutory functions are those of her office and are not taken on behalf of Government’. Taylor adds that as the question concerns a specific case, he had asked the Chief Exec to reply direct. There follows the text of a letter from Julia Lomas to Alex Carlile, 25 April 1995. The mistake with Mary’s name is acknowledged and corrected and Lomas goes on to state that in 1982 Mary brought proceedings against the Public Trustee in relation to the administration of the estate of her dead mother, Violet Wynch. The proceedings were defended. The case was ‘complicated’ and the hearing was ‘anticipated to be lengthy and expensive’ and therefore in 1994 a payment of £15,000 into Court to settle the matter was authorised. Mary accepted this payment, which was made with no admission of liability on the point of the Public Trustee. ‘The Public Trustee has always been confident that had the case been fought the Public Trustee would have won, albeit at a disproportionate cost to public funds. The payment into Court was and remains regarded by me payment to save public funds rather than any admission as to the merits of Miss Winch’s case’.

And that was the end of the matter – a respectable innocent woman had been ruined, swindled out of her inheritance by a bunch of small town crooked solicitors, illegally imprisoned and then banged up, again illegally, in a notoriously grim, lawless mental hospital for a year. And people occupying the highest offices of the British state colluded with all of it.

Followers of my blog know that in previous posts, I have compared the chronology of some of the things that happened in my own case – being arrested at the behest of the north Wales mental health services, being denounced as ‘dangerous’, being served with High Court Injunctions on the basis of affidavits sworn by people who were lying about me and who had sometimes not even met me – with the chronology of the actions of Alison Taylor and others drawing attention to the paedophile ring that was operating in the children’s homes in north Wales. The injunctions and arrests correlate nearly perfectly with the breaking of stories about the north Wales paedophile ring, the ring which we now know was being facilitated and concealed by a number of people employed and associated with the mental health services in north Wales. The shit raining down upon my head was particularly bad in 1991 – when all that media and Parliamentary attention was focused on what had happened to Mary. It was at this time that the north Wales mental health services, along with St Georges Hospital and Springfield Hospital, were using some of the most biggest names in UK forensic psychiatry to denounce me as so dangerous that I was a candidate for the likes of Broadmoor – although there was documentary evidence that the psychiatrists in London knew that patients in north Wales were being sexually exploited by psychiatrists and that they also knew there was no evidence at all for the very serious charges that I was facing which were eventually dropped. Springfield documented that I had become suicidal as a result of the stress that I was under as a result of the constant arrests and court cases – yet failed to support me at all and discharged me with no aftercare after three weeks. When I arrived home after being discharged from Springfield, I found a letter from my employers, St Georges Hospital Medical School – I had been working as a research assistant there. This letter stated that I had spent an ‘excessively long time on sick leave’ and was effectively telling me that I was sacked. I had been on sick leave for three weeks. I now have in my possession copies of letters signed by managers of the north Wales mental health services in which they ask each other if their friends and contacts at St Georges have found out which dept I was working in and letters describing how their contacts at St Georges were accessing mail sent to me at the hospital in order to find out my home address. I also have a copy of a letter signed by the occupational health physician at St Georges – who basically harassed me throughout my time there and constantly told me to stop my complaints about the mental health services in north Wales – confirming that my ‘behaviour at work’ ‘was not a problem’.

Just after I left St Georges in 1991, Dr Tony Francis from Ysbyty Gwynedd (who has previously been referred to on this blog as Dr X) ordered his solicitors – Hempsons – to take steps to have me committed to prison on the grounds that I was breaking a High Court Injunction that he’d obtained against me. He had obtained the injunction by perjuring himself and I have copies of letters demonstrating that his own legal advisors had advised him very strongly not to take legal action against me. Francis wanted me ‘committed to prison’ because I was writing letters of complaint stating that he and Dafydd Alun Jones were abusing patients and breaking the law. So who was the barrister who represented a man who was breaking the law – along with his colleagues – and tried to have the woman who was complaining about this imprisoned? It was one Robert Francis QC, a barrister who worked for the Medical Defence Union. Robert Francis is now Sir Robert Francis QC, a member of the Care Quality Commission and leading light of the Patients Association! He was also famously employed to Chair the Inquiry into the genocide that took place at Mid-Staffs – there were numerous allegations that Robert Francis played down the full horror of what happened at Mid-Staffs. Francis also led the Freedom To Speak Up review into whistleblowing in the NHS. Whistleblowers maintain that Francis sold them down the river and that his recommendations did nothing to protect them. Readers new to this blog can read the whole shameful saga in previous blog posts such as ‘St George’s Hospital Medical School 1989/90’, ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London…’ and ‘The Sordid Role of Sir Robert Francis QC’.

As for the Early Day Motion in 1991 urging an investigation into Mary’s case that was signed by Dafydd Wigley and others – this would appear to have been a noble action but obviously didn’t get anywhere. Yet only a year later, Dafydd Wigley signed another Early Day Motion, this time sponsored by Elfyn Llwyd, opposing the closure of Garth Angharad. Garth Angharad, which was described as a ‘hospital for mentally abnormal criminals’, contained people who complained that they’d been molested in children’s homes in north Wales and was owned and managed by a man who was mentioned in the Waterhouse Report as someone who also owned children’s homes and residential schools which had been at the centre of allegations of physical cruelty and sexual abuse (please see blog posts ‘More On Those Prisons For Folk Who Dared Complain’ and ‘Further Information On Garth Angharad Hospital’). So why in the course of a year did Dafydd Wigley move from a position of defending Mary on a Parliamentary level to working to ensure that the personal prison of Dafydd and the paedophile gang remained open? In about 1990 I received a very supportive letter from Dafydd Wigley after I contacted him about the abuses taking place at the North Wales Hospital. Yet when I wrote to him again a couple of years later I did not receive a reply. It is part of north Wales folklore that Dafydd Wigley was eventually shafted by Plaid for reasons that only members of the inner circle understand and was replaced as MP for Caernarfon by the fool Hywel Williams, a former psychiatric social worker who had worked with Dafydd Alun Jones and the North Wales Hospital Denbigh. Of course as a social worker based in Gwynedd, Hywel will have been employed by Gwynedd Social Services – that’s the Gwynedd Social Services that the Waterhouse Report admitted had a Director, Lucille Hughes, who knew that a paedophile ring was operating within the Social Services but failed to respond. All Williams achieved in the years following his election was to reduce Plaid’s majority in that constituency, which had been huge (recent boundary changes have bumped up the majority again, giving Hywel a bit of a breather). Dafydd Wigley was enormously popular locally – but interestingly enough the one person whom I know who was probably even more complimentary about Wigley than anyone else was Dr Tony Francis. So would anyone from Plaid – including Dafydd Wigley himself – like to explain to the rest of us what went on?

As for the final mention of Mary in Hansard in 1995 – by 1996 the Jillings Report was published, a result of the first investigation into the north Wales child abuse scandal (please see previous posts). This was the report that was so damning that it was famously not published and an order was sent out by Flintshire Council (which had succeeded Clwyd County Council after what looks like now a very convenient local authority reorganisation) that all copies should be pulped. The Jillings Report was commissioned by Clwyd County Council in 1994, so Jillings and his team will have been undertaking their investigation in 1995…

The information that my co-researcher has sent me about Mary’s case has prompted me to find out more about the judges and lawyers involved in her case – and the politicians behind the scenes. More posts on this will follow soon.

One more appeal to readers of the blog. Many years ago, sometime in the mid-1980s, Radio 4 broadcast a play called ‘Penrhyn Summer’. It had very obviously been written by someone like me, of my generation as well, who had studied at Bangor University and made friends with local people rather than only students. The play’s plot centred around a young woman who had just graduated and had taken a summer job at Penrhyn Castle and through this had learnt much of the grimmer history of north Wales and how local people had suffered at the hands of an economy dominated by the Anglicised landowners in the region. The North Wales Hospital featured in this programme and there were references to the dreadful things alleged to be happening there. One of the central characters in the play was a local man whom the young woman idolised who framed himself as a radical political activist – towards the end of the play this man announced that he’d been selected as a Plaid candidate for Westminster and dropped his enquiries into the North Wales Hospital… Most of what I hear about north Wales on Radio 4 is so inaccurate that it’s not worth listening to. But this play had the social and cultural landscape of north west Wales in the mid-1980s spot on (only of course Radio 4 used actors who all had perfect SOUTH Walian accents) and it was very obviously based on someone’s own experiences. I have tried to find out who wrote this play, or indeed to gain any more info about it at all, but have got nowhere. If any readers know anything about it – especially who the hypocritical Plaid candidate was based upon – I’d love to know more.

Whilst on the subject of memories of student life at Bangor in the 80s, one of the biggest and most well-funded of the student societies was ‘Community Action’. CA (as it was known) had it’s own minibus and I seem to remember had a full-time paid organiser. One of their specialities was ‘working with disadvantaged children’ in the Bangor area. Students are idealistic and probably would never have imagined that a vicious paedophile ring was operating in the local Social Services. But someone in authority in CA will have smelt a rat. And the one thing that students like me who mixed with local people noticed was how many seriously neglected children there were in Bangor. Children whose parents had abandoned them or gone to prison or who had parents who simply couldn’t cope were just left to their own devices, often left in the care of an older sibling who couldn’t look after them very well. And people did know that all was not as it should be. When I first complained about Gwynne Williams the lobotomist who was working sessions in the Student Health Centre no less, my first representations – after I’d been threatened by Dr DGE Wood the GP running the Centre and told by him that I ‘wasn’t allowed’ to complain about Williams – were made to the Welfare Officer in the Students Union. This young man admitted that there were major problems with Gwynne Williams and that there had been many complaints about him. He later denied saying this to the staff of the Health Centre. He then told me that if continued to complain about Williams I would get a ‘bad name’ – did he know that I’d be slandered, libelled and lied about in Court perhaps? After this he told me that he couldn’t take my complaint any further. Some five years ago I discovered that this man had become the Financial Director of an NHS Trust in the English Midlands (which was interesting because he graduated with a Third and I was told that he subsequently failed accountancy exams). Clearly Duncan Orme has done very well for himself after failing to challenge a lobotomist whose handling of one student was so negligent that they tried to kill themselves hours after seeing him. An ideal start to a glorious career in NHS senior management. But my God Duncan – the bastards were assisting a paedophile gang as well….

 

http://www.drsallybaker.com/uncategorized/the-mary-wynch-case-details/

Challenging Behaviour And Cyngor Gwynedd.

I wonder if the Children and Families Department in Gwynedd ever ask themselves the question “how did we get here ?”

They have had Assembly Members for Wales, Members of Parliament, District Councillors, County Councillors, the Ombudsman for Wales all notified of systemic failures in the Department and asking questions of their behaviour.

I have been astounded at how ineffectual all these people are against council managers – whom, it appears, can behave as badly and unprofessionally as they like and there is no comeback – but that is for another post.

My involvement only began, last February, after a phone conversation between my wife and a social worker.

Remembering that – Gwynedd need to be reminded that challenging bad behaviour does not mean people are whiny bastards – it just means they are challenging bad behaviour.

 

The Story Behind A £1.5 Million Grant In Gwynedd.

Previous blog posts ‘Service User Involvement in North Wales’ and ‘We Control All The Outcomes’ describe how there is no effective or genuine representation for ‘services users’ and carers in north Wales and indeed never has been. If anyone at any time had ever ‘listened to’ a service user or carer the ‘services’ would simply not be in this state. For years, ‘service user involvement’ was left to completely ineffective bodies like the ‘Independent Advocacy Service’ or the ‘Gwynedd and Ynys Mon Users Forum’ (which were staffed and managed by people who were terrified of the staff and managers of the lethal services whom they were supposed to be holding to account), or Unllais (whom I knew were refusing to make representation regarding the mental health services even when they were being told of the most serious abuses). Until March 2016 Unllais held the contract for service user involvement in north Wales. Considering how hopeless Unllais had been at representing and involving service users, the ending of their contract would have been the most wonderful opportunity for the Betsi to begin some real ‘service user and carer involvement’. Readers will know that this never happened and instead a new nightmare is promised, as the ‘contract’ was subsequently given to CAIS/Hafal, who have now formed another vehicle, CANIAD (please see blog post ‘Introducing Caniad!’). So Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Lucille Hughes, who sit on the Board of Trustees of CAIS, are now responsible for ‘service user involvement’ in north Wales. We can assume that the outcome from this will therefore be truly grim. Many of my previous blog posts describe the unethical and criminal behaviour of Dafydd Alun Jones – and Lucille Hughes was named in the Waterhouse Report as knowing that a paedophile ring was operating in Gwynedd Social Services whilst she was the Director of these ‘Services’ but that she was failing to act. Dafydd and Lucille are now in their eighties, they have never protected the interests of service users and carers before and I very much doubt that they are going to start now.

As soon as I heard that CAIS/Hafal had landed this ‘contract’ from the Betsi, I was interested to find out exactly how this had happened, particularly as there seems to massive conflicts of interest in many other ‘contracts for services’ being handed out by the Betsi. Blog post ‘A Total Lack of Transparency’ details how the whole process has been shrouded in secrecy.

So I recently put in a FoI request to Wrexham County Borough Council (who were inexplicably allowed by the Betsi to ‘lead’ on this whole travesty) in an attempt to find out exactly how CAIS had landed this contract and the identities of the people involved. Last week I received a reply from Wrexham Council which didn’t answer all my questions but did provide a lot of enlightening information. Wrexham Council told me that I wasn’t allowed to reproduce ‘copyrighted’ information without permission and although I’ve written to them requesting this permission I haven’t received a reply. So I cannot reproduce the wonderful information that I have been provided with in it’s entirety, but I can blog about the salient points within this information.

The first surprise that I got was how much this ‘contract’ was worth. It was worth 1.5 million. That’s right, the Betsi have channelled 1.5 million quid to Dafydd et al for five years worth of ‘service user involvement’. The Betsi are currently nearly bankrupting the Welsh Govt so bad is their financial position. But CAIS have been given 1.5 million. The information given to me also confirmed that a grand total of FOUR unidentified service users were ‘involved’ in this process. And I bet they won’t see much of the 1.5 million that has been handed over – indeed, I was sent a rather simplistic ‘presentation’ allegedly designed by one of the ‘service users’ regarding what ‘involvement’ means to him and he mentioned that he was able to claim his expenses. So he gets his bus fare and the price of a lunchtime sandwich reimbursed and Dafydd et al net 1.5 million.

The information provided told me that there were only two ‘bids’ put in for the ‘tender’, one from Unllais and one from CAIS/Hafal. The fact that ‘service user involvement’ was subject to a ‘tendering’ process alone excludes nearly all service users and carers. How many patients and carers are ever going to ‘bid for a contract’? How many even knew that all this was happening? I didn’t and I actually try to keep aware of what is going on in the mental health services in north Wales. But people on the ‘professional’ networks will have known all about it, because the information sent to me revealed that ‘from January 2014 onwards, the Health Board’s Commissioning Manager…attended all the Local Planning Groups in North Wales’. Well you won’t find many service users and carers in them, but ‘professionals’ know all about these planning groups, who sits on them and when they hold their meetings. It was also mentioned that the Commissioning Manager attended ‘Third Sector’ networks (CAIS is a Third Sector organisation) and Service User and Carer networks. Now in a region that was not blighted by corruption and criminal activity in the mental health services, the Commissioning Manager attending Service User and Carer Networks would be a positive sign. But in north Wales, most ‘service users’ experiences of the ‘services’ are so bad that when they finally wave goodbye to the services (if indeed they ever manage to obtain a service in the first place) they want no more to do with them. They do not join a ‘service user network’. Furthermore, in my experience the ‘service user networks’ in north Wales have always been manipulated or indeed completely controlled by the ‘services’ themselves or the lame third sector organisations such as MIND who have for years colluded with the abuses of the mental health services. And some of the service user groups are run by CAIS. So it’s highly unlikely that any grassroots service user and carer groups would have encountered the Commissioning Manager who was allegedly publicising the commissioning process.

But what if north Wales happened to have a really enterprising group of service users and carers who did know that a commissioning process was happening and who were even prepared to form a group to bid for this contract? Well the information provided to me suggests that they would have found such bidding very difficult indeed. For a start, the information regarding the bidding process and what needs to be done to land the bid successfully is littered with acronyms with are never explained. I have a PhD and a research background in social policy and sociology in the Welsh context and I didn’t know what most of those acronyms meant. But it gets worse. Even if a group of service users had managed to plough through all this and somehow decipher it, at the ‘Meet The Buyer Event’, in the ‘procurement information’, provided by Rachel Glynn-Thomas (‘category manager’) there was a reference to a preference for the bidders to make use of technology – specifically to submit the bid via e procurement, ‘utilising the Bravo Solutions etenderWales software hosted by the Welsh Government’. Well that will be familiar to every service user and carer in Wales won’t it, they’ll use it daily. Service users wanting to bid will have needed a good accountant as well, because they had to complete one of the most taxing spreadsheets that I’ve ever seen, worse even than the spreadsheets that I used to complete when I wrote research bids for the research councils that fund academic research (and I had the University accountant to help me). Now, even if our hypothetical service user group did contain a social policy expert, an accountant, someone who was familiar with procurement procedures used by the Welsh Govt as well as someone who knew how to install and use the specialised software used by the Welsh Govt for procurement, there was something interesting about when the ‘Meet The Buyer Event’ was held. I don’t remember seeing it being advertised anywhere. But if I was someone who might have been looking out for an opportunity to bid for a Welsh Government contract and was familiar with the procedure of bidding for these contracts, I’d have been looking at the website Sell2Wales. The contract was advertised on Sell2Wales – but not until nearly a month after the ‘Meet The Buyer Event’ had been held. So anyone attending that ‘Meet The Buyer Event’ (the only opportunity to receive information and ask questions) could have only known about it from an inside contact.

The ‘Meet The Buyer’ event was held in the Boardroom of Optic St Asaph, a location virtually impossible to get to by public transport – so interested service users who did know about it will have needed their own cars to get there. The people making up the panel at the ‘Meet The Buyer’ event included Wyn Thomas (Assistant Director, Community Partnership Development, BCUHB), Vicky Jones (Regional Substance Misuse Commissioning and Development Manager), Jane Jones (Partnership Manager, BCUHB), Rachel Glynn-Thomas (Category Manager, Wrexham Borough County Council) and Sion ap Glynn (Business Support Wales). These are not the sort of people that your average service user would know – but I bet people from CAIS knew them, particularly as CAIS already provide ‘substance misuse services’ on behalf of the Betsi and thus work ‘in partnership’ with them.

There were also two ‘service users’ on this panel, a David Holmes and an Andrea Hughes – however at least one of the powerpoints supplied to me allegedly presented by the ‘service users’ contained a number of highly complex flow charts. I have yet to meet a service user who would ever include such things in a presentation on ‘What Involvement Means To Me’. These managerialist flow charts were also noticeably inconsistent with the rest of the presentation material from the ‘service users’, which pivoted around claiming expenses, supporting others, feeling like a valuable human being, undertaking an entry level education course and no longer being sectioned. I suspect that the managerialist flow charts had been added to those presentations by someone else.

The information supplied to me also suggested that someone might have been expecting a bid from CAIS/Hafal. The information is littered with references to ‘substance misuse services’. Indeed mentions of ‘substance misuse services’ were being prioritised – again and again they were mentioned in the remit after ‘service user involvement’. But there are other rather big clues as well. One slide sent to me in response to my FoI request was a presentation by Jane Jones, Partnership Manager, BCUHB. She certainly seems to gearing up for a partnership with CAIS/Hafal – her presentation states that ‘we would welcome bids from a consortia or partnership but partners must be clear about their partnership arrangements before submitting an application’. No doubt Jane Jones wanted to ensure that any such partnerships contained the word ‘CAIS’ in their ‘arrangements’. The biggest clue however is contained on the slide prepared by Rachel Glynn-Thomas regarding ‘procurement information’: ‘WCBC [Wrexham County Borough Council] on behalf of the Six North Wales Authorities represented by the Area Planning Board for Substance Misuse and with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board…’ So at the very heart of the ‘procurement process’ was the Area Planning Board For Substance Misuse – who are presumably the people who have already commissioned CAIS to provide ‘substance misuse services’ and know them well. Rachel’s slide mentions the need to ensure ‘best value’ and that a marketised commissioning process is the best way of achieving this – ah, so that’s how 1.5 million found its way into the pockets of Dafydd Alun Jones, Lucille Hughes et al…

The dirty deed has now been done, the dosh has gone to CAIS/Hafal and now Dafydd, Lucille and their mates are dictating what ‘service user involvement’ in north Wales looks like. One of the slides sent to me gives some ‘facts and figures’ regarding the region covered by the Betsi. It mentions that there are 1,600 staff employed in the Mental Health Division. So ‘service users’ who dare to complain are faced with 1,600 people sticking together like glue. (It’s tempting to suggest that there are probably more staff employed in the Mental Health Division than patients successfully obtaining a service.) And now they’ve got CAIS to represent their interests against the 1,600 people.

Whilst reading through the information supplied to me in response to my FoI request, any, many questions sprung to mind. But the biggest question of all surely has to be that if CAIS have been given 1.5 million for five years worth of ‘service user involvement’ how much are they raking in for providing all their other ‘services’? As Private Eye would say, I think we should be told…

http://www.drsallybaker.com/uncategorized/the-story-behind-1-5-million/

Complaint To The LGO Wales Re Gwynedd Council.

On Monday, the final bits of evidence relating to my complaint against Gwynedd Council were received by the Local Government Ombudsman.

I did not count the amount of pages sent but it was considerable, including the parents complaint from 2010 in which all points were upheld by the Independent Investigators.

Many people have advised that I am wasting my time but I am hopeful that the LGO will come to the same conclusion that I and many others, including Councillors, my MP and my AM have reached – that there is something very, very wrong with the way that criteria for services is being interpreted by certain officers and their staff.

This last year has been long and nightmarish. I anticipate major changes for the New Year and that services for the teenager in my care will finally be given.

Disabled children in Wales ‘three times more likely to suffer abuse than able-bodied’.

Disabled children are three times more likely to be abused than non-disabled children in Wales and are less likely to get the protection they need, a new report has revealed.

The NSPCC publication, which will be launched in Cardiff today, claims people’s reluctance to believe disabled children are suffering physical, sexual and emotional abuse is to blame.

The charity says there are “barriers” for the families of disabled children in accessing the right support services.

And it also blames a lack of professional skills, expertise and confidence in identifying child protection concerns and criticises the weakness of an effective child protection response across the UK.

The NSPCC fears cases go unreported because some disabled children have difficulties in communicating what is happening to them.

In addition, there are claims disabled children in residential care face particular risks of harm.

Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services, will be at the Millennium Centre today to help unveil the report with the help of schoolchildren from Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn in Morriston, Swansea.

He said: “Enabling children to recognise and understand different forms of abuse is key to ensuring we respond effectively to concerns when they arise.

“The Social Services and Well-being Wales Act will strengthen the statutory framework which underpins how professionals who work with children and adults at risk ensure that they are protected from abuse.”

The report, called We Have a Right to be Safe, makes a number of recommendations to lower the levels of abuse.

It has called on the Welsh Government to introduce sex and relationships education for disabled children to raise their awareness of abuse and their ability to seek help.

The charity also wants to develop a “wider and deeper evidence base” to help the public better understand the vulnerability of disabled children to abuse and how they can be protected.

Viv Laing, NSPCC policy and public affairs manager for Wales, said: “Today’s report does demonstrate that there is knowledge and good practice out there but also that we need to share and build on that to ensure that our disabled children and young people are equally protected.

“We’re very much hoping to work alongside Welsh Government over the coming years to develop our knowledge of the issues facing disabled children and young people in Wales.

“This will help us better understand the issues they, and those who care for them, face so that they can be better protected.”

Ysgol Pen-Y Bryn is also to be the first special school in Wales to pilot an adapted version of the ChildLine Schools Service.

The ground-breaking service, which has to date visited 38,607 children across 684 schools in Wales, uses trained volunteers to help children understand abuse and recognise it if it occurs.

Aron Bradley, deputy headteacher at Ysgol Pen-y-Bryn, said: “As the report identifies, bullying is a particular area of increased risk for disabled children – because they’re more vulnerable.

“It’s very important for them to know what it is and where to get help and we’re pleased that the ChildLine Schools Service will help re-enforce that message.

“They will also provide valuable expert knowledge on sensitive issues which are not easily addressed in school.”

During today’s event, two new bilingual versions of the NSPCC’s successful Underwear Rule guide will also be launched to help parents teach children with learning disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) about sexual abuse.

The guides were produced in association with Mencap and the National Autistic Society.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/health/disabled-children-wales-three-times-7960830