It was my third time, on Friday, of experiencing a Mental Health Tribunal, and it was the worst one yet. The other two were in Fife and this one not. The others were weighted against the patient and carer . Whereas this one was like going through the motions and getting it over with as quick as possible. A foregone conclusion as obviously a patient in a locked ward should be staying there.
I shouldn't be surprised and was prepared for some resistance, to having a voice and being heard. But this so-called safeguard took the biscuit. The occasion was recorded as all MH Tribunals are but the only folk taking/using notes apart from the panel were me and the solicitor. The psychiatrist and MHO talked off the top of their heads and the advocate said nothing at all.
I was there as a mother and carer, also meant to be named person. But in the 24hrs preceding this it had been scuppered due to the MHO arranging for another person to be in this role. Hence her surprise at me turning up I suppose (what are you doing here?). As if being a carer and mother meant zilch. So much for the mental health act principle 7 of Respect for Carers. At the bottom of the pile as usual.
Ironically it was me who had Emailed the MH Tribunal on 9 January to let them know of my son's wanting to appeal his detention. I also arranged a solicitor for him. And yet by the tribunal on 18 January I had received no paperwork or intimation about it. I had a phone call from the MHO on the 17 January telling me about it and that my son didn't want me to attend. The same day I had a phone message from my son asking me to attend. I visited my son in the ward that night with his younger brother, we had a good chat.
Now who would you believe? I'd only met the MHO once, wasn't impressed. I've known my son for 34yrs and think he's a great lad. We get on well even when agreeing to differ. Social workers don't know anything about me or mine. They're paid to do a job and should be doing it professionally. Not interfering or having personal opinions, thinking that they are somehow now 'family'. They're not and never will be. It's a job, nothing more, and they get well paid for it.
Well on the day my son had his say, through the solicitor, and I had mine. I also had to correct both the psychiatrist and the MHO who didn't have their facts right. The psychiatrist, because he was only filling in temporarily on the ward due to the other locum consultant having left the week before, suddenly. Another locum psychiatrist is flying in from Ireland to take his place. The locum duty doctor was also leaving that day.
Locum doctors on locked psych wards are not a good idea, in my opinion. Especially two of them at the same time, one who didn't appear to know the mental health act, although a nice person. Optimisation of services shouldn't impact negatively on staff and patients. What use the mental health act safeguards if the professionals don't know about them or know how they work? This question is addressed to the Mental Welfare Commission, if they are listening.
Regardless of the tribunal being ineffective as a safeguard, I am to a certain extent OK about my son's care, because I have got to know the nurses on the ward. And my son says he's happy, most of the time anyway. Although he has mental distress because of life's circumstances. But this doesn't excuse the safeguards not being effective. They need to be accessible, appropriate and professional. Otherwise it makes a nonsense of the mental health act and the protection of patient and carer rights. Some might say like a chocolate teapot.