Mental healthcare facility rebuild must go ahead

Whitchurch Hospital - New outside
Full-scale models of en-suite rooms planned for the rebuild of Whitchurch Hospital that is due to go in front of the National Assembly Government for approval in a months have been unveiled to the public.

The proposal lays down costs of £118m to completely rebuild the hospital at Whitchurch which has stood for over 100-years. Some of the proposed features include:

  • £68 million to be spent on the Cardiff inpatient hospital
  • Single room en suite accommodation over two floors
  • Access to unspoilt parklands, courtyards and garden areas.

In a press release they say “Whilst the care given currently is of a high standard, the old Whitchurch Hospital is no longer fit for purpose”, which is a statement that I would whole-heartedly agree with.

Anybody who has made a visit to or had a stay at the hospital will be able to tell you that it does feel exactly like the hospital from “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest”. The hallways are gothic, cold and wide open. The wards are barn-like rooms with high ceilings and nothing but a curtain to separate one person from the next, very much like normal hospital wards. A set up that is not typical of, or beneficial to, modern mental health treatment methods. It really isn’t the most therapeutic of places to be, especially when taking into account the condition of the patients who use the service.

I have stated previouslythat provisions for mental healthcare within the NHS do not go far enough and should be given higher priority. This is a golden opportunity for the National Assembly Government to show that they have a commitment mental healthcare and wellbeing services and to bring sites up to standards that would compliment 21st century psychological treatments.

Rhodri Morgan, ever the optimist

Rhodri MorganFirst Minister for Wales Rhodri Morgan seems to think that politics in the UK is too far behind that of the US to for a black person to be elected prime minister. In stating this Mr Morgan is, as usual, exercising his right to senility.

Mr Morgan, who is most likely serving his final term, is completely off the mark to suggest that the voting populous would not elect a candidate by reason of ethnicity or skin colour.

Barack Obama was a first term Senator when he was elected President of the United States. 4 years ago he was almost a complete unknown out of his adopted home city of Chicago, yet now he has taken his oath and is sitting as the commander-in-chief of the most powerful of Western democracies.

To say that years of service and experience through the political systems is required to be successful in British politics is utter rubbish. I would even say that a figure who has been languishing within the pig-pen for 20 years is possibly the worst person to put into high office, for all the scandals, lies and cheating that would likely have centred or gone on around that person through those years, making them corrupted or hardened. Look at Peter Mandelson for goodness sake. When will he give it up and buzz off? After all of the drama he’s been involved in, including have to resign, twice, you would expect him to have thrown in the towel a long time ago, at least to save (what is left of) his dignity.

So, to you, Rhodri Morgan, years of being inside a moral-less, corrupted elitist circle may have been your way of getting to the top, but this does not necessarily mean it is the de facto or only route. Stimulation, innovation and conjugation may also suffice and there are plenty of younger whipper-snappers who will be biting at your heels soon enough with oodles of the stuff.

A job best left to the professionals

Pro-suicide is such a crude term and begs the question, “Are expressions like pro-bullying or pro-domestic violence valid in the same way?” Probably not. With that being the case, why are the national press compelled to use this term when broaching the subject of websites that give advice or guidance on the act of seppuku?

There have been calls from the usual backbench suspects – who clearly have very little to do outside of election year other than to stand up in the house and make absurd suggestions – to consider laws that could never possibly be implemented. Not without severe repercussions on freedom of speech and monstrous infringements of civil liberties.

For a government to inhibit the circulation of the theory of practices that are not punishable by law, but rather frowned upon by society, would make the position of countless other publications, unrelated to suicide, untenable. This would of course be across all mediums; print, online, television, radio. In essence, to prevent access by force, as is being suggested, to websites that glorify or ‘normalise’ suicide, would open the flood gates to all those who feel the desire to complain about anything that aggrieves them in the media.

As an example, citation of this proposed act could have been used in the case of The Christian Faith vs. Jerry Springer The Opera. The BBC received 55,000 written complaints when it was due to be aired on the BBC2 channel in 2005. Would this have been enough public outcry to warrant invoking this act, leaving us instead doomed to ‘Allo ‘Allo repeats (which itself could be censored if enough French people claimed racism) on that Saturday night?

Legislation is no substitute for treatment or prevention. If there was enough attention focused on mental health treatment, which there is not, then perhaps there should be no need to consider absurd censorship such as this.

In my county, Cardiff, there is currently a six month waiting list to see a councelor courtesy of the National Health Service. This has been same since at least 2001. I can tell you this from personal experience. If a person seeks help from their GP citing issues of mental health, they are first and foremost offered anti-depressant drugs and then asked if they would like to be added to the waiting list to see a specialist for counseling. For some people half a year is too long, but have no other choice. Private counseling is an an option that is not always viable, for a multitude of reasons.

It takes a lot of courage for somebody experiencing mental turmoil to turn to somebody for help and for them to be dealt with in such a manner when they do, even more so with the state of mind that they are in at that time, can be horribly detrimental to their health.

In the wake of the Bridgend crisis the UK government should take this opportunity to improve the mental health services available to these vulnerable persons who feel the need to visit ‘pro-suicide’ websites, before it’s too late.

Welsh Labour down and out?

Why is it that the Welsh Labour party, in the run up to the Assembly elections on May 3rd are running such a negative campaign?

Any of the literature that I have seen dropped through the door or handed out in the street has been about how ‘if you vote for any of the other parties or independents, then you’re letting the Conservatives in through the back door, vote Labour so you don’t get the Conservative party’.

Well, that’s a profound reason. We want to let Rhodri Morgan and his bunch of do-nothing cronies continue to do barely anything for this country, just because…?

I can name three things that the Welsh Assembly government has done since it came into power, 7 years ago, none of them affect me though;

Free bus passes [but I'm not a senior citizen]
Free prescriptions [I'm rarely ill]
Smoking ban [this would have happened anyway, Assembly or not]

Even their 2007 campaign website doesn’t list much more than these as their acheivements over the past term, except for spurious claims such as “record spending on education” and “a huge increase in investment in health”.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan resided to loss a long time ago, announcing that if his party does badly in the polls, he will resign. This surely isn’t the mantra of a fighter, a leader, someone in control of his destiny or sure of his previous achievements.

All the other parties have latched onto this perception too, never before have I seen so much literature piled through my letterbox and this is simply because Plaid, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives, Independents and even UKIP know that there are potentially huge gains to be made with the greatest of ease.

I have a feeling that Wales will have a new, possibly coalition government come the day after polling, and for the better it will be too. Wales needs to be represented from within its own borders, but not in the way that it is now;
A small country with a small political voice.
We need to be a small country with a National Assembly that acts as a megaphone.

No Burberry please, we’re Welsh

So it seems that to wear Burberry in Wales now is as to sport the Swastika in Germany.

Of course, not that I am complaining. I’m proud not to own a single checked baseball cap or polo-shirt, but the principle is what is important.

For the wife of an American diplomat to wear a coat by Burberry on Friday when visiting the National Assembly for Wales was headlined in the local rag as a ‘gaffe’ or a ‘clanger’.

I have every sympathy for those who have lost their jobs due to Burberry moving work usually done by the factory in Treorchy to China, but does this mean that for every company that moves out of Wales we need to boycott their products and services?

Lloyds TSB moved a substantial number of jobs from their Newport call centre to Mumbai, India with a loss of 107 jobs and Norwich Union transferred 2,350 jobs to the Indian sub-continent in 2003. Yet, Aviva (parent company of Norwich Union) continue to thrive and are one of the leaders in the UK insurance market.

Fighting for your job, or the jobs of your constituents is an honourable cause, but there comes a time when you must admit defeat, in respect of the greater good.
The campaign, headed at political level by Assembly Member Leighton Andrews has undeniably tarnished the reputation of Wales as a place to set-up business.

In the current climate, it is a given fact that companies require greater flexibility than ever, in a global market which one day would be fine, the next, as we saw last week with the market plunges across the globe, we could be in a totally different situation where jobs need to be moved in order to ensure the survival of the business.

Unfortunately, what Mr Andrews and his colleagues are doing in continuing this campaign against Burberry is portraying Wales as a country which will fight to the bitter end and do everything that can be done to discredit organisations who try to remove jobs from the country.

How would this look to a prospective factory owner or big business who want to find somewhere to put their new call-centre? Surely this would make us look hostile and most certainly not a great country with which to do business. This crusade to save 300 jobs may halt the creation of thousands in the future, and it has been said the at least 1/3 of the employees of the Treorchy factory have already found new jobs, so who knows any many more will find alternative employment once the gates are shut for the last time, the placards are put away and attention is on future livelihoods.
The politicians may make out like it is, and the people believe them, but I’m sure that the closure of this factory will not spell the end of Treorchy, just as, though again it was promised by MP’s and union heads, the closure of the coal mines did not wipe out the Valleys as a whole in the 1980′s.

Treorchy has been given a decent settlement from Burberry; £150,000 a year to a community fund, to run for 10 years, a ‘loyalty bonus’ to staff and the company will hand over the factory to the community to be used as they wish.

The factory is due to close at the end of this month.