Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Answers not Lists - Nick Clegg at PMQs

PMQs was a little subdued today. The speculation is that Cameron is pulling his punches as he would rather keep Brown there than contribute to his downfall. But I was impressed with Nick - he asked an important question about mental health, drawing attention to the fact that there is a two tier system. Brown just did his usual and banged on about the NHS and all their investment in mental health services, Nick rightly challenged him, asking for answers not lists.

Regular readers will know that this is an issue close to my heart, having grown up with a father with a bi-polar condition and having spent most of last summer supporting a sister who suffered unbelievably in a terrible psychiatric unit. To put vulnerable people in mixed sex wards is inexcusable - I lost count of the number of times my sister called me terrified because of something that had happened, whether that was a man exposing himself, or coming into her room in the middle of the night and trying to kiss her, or there being a fight. I was also horrified at how badly she was treated by some of the staff, even being threatened. Of course, when I complained it was all put down to her condition. One of the worst things that happened was when she was so frightened she hid in the tiny cupboard in her disgusting room (which looked and to her felt, more like a prison cell with tiny windows, chunks out of the door, dirty walls and carpet) all night, eventually wetting herself. Perhaps this is not the sort of thing to talk about on a blog, but it seems to me part of the problem is that there is still such a stigma attached to mental illness and we don't talk about it. We are quite happy for people to be locked away in disgusting conditions so that we don't have to see them or think about them. These people are often the most vulnerable in our society. Some will have families who will do their best to fight for them, others have no one. Of course there are dedicated caring doctors nurses and care assistants who try to make the best of a bad job, but sadly mental health is not top of anyone's priority list. So I for one am pleased that Nick is taking this up as a campaigning issue. At a time when the government is lauding its new vision for the NHS - that people should be treated with care and dignity - my question is, isn't that what we should have expected anyway for goodness sake?

1 comment:

thechristophe said...

If David Camerons one word attack on Brown is 'dithering' I think Clegg had it right today with 'complacent' we do need answers/action not lists