Amateur Hour and Victim Blaming at Argyll and Bute Womens Aid. Fin.

Having been emotionally brutalised by ABWA’s, at best unprofessional, and at worst abusive behaviour, I was at my wits’ end and, as advised and feeling pretty desperate, I phoned the ABWA office to see if they could help seeing as how they had caused my distress. I was beyond distressed actually and I was also noticeably under the influence of alcohol (my speech was slurred) and, as usual Pamela decided she would be the one to speak to me, being in charge and all and she did the usual, “why do you keep contacting us, leave Liz alone” etc….I got upset at her tone and I said ” All I want is for someone to tell me why this happened! What did I do” and she said “You want to know what happened? You know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. You abused Liz, that’s what happened!!! “Yes you did – you ABUSED HER!” and she launched into the most petty, mean-spirited and vicious display of nastiness I’ve ever heard from a so-called professional.

On and on she went screaming down the phone at me as if she was having a psychotic break. “You used her and abused her, you used to phone her at home and in the middle of the night. I couldn’t believe my ears.  This was nonsense, by the way. I never had Liz’s home phone number and I never , ever phoned her outside of office hours. Pamela asked Liz to confirm that I phoned her at home, which is how I know she was sitting there with her. What a class act she turned out to be.

I was in a terrible state and she just kept on badgering me. To end the call she said that if I need support that’s fine but otherwise I was not to phone them again. I said “I did phone for support”! and she said “No you didn’t!”.Well what was I phoning for then? Yet again she offered support but had no intention of providing any. I said “I need support.” and she said “Fine, I’ll speak to you tomorrow and hung up.

I could have attempted suicide that night very, very easily. Did she care? Did MacColl care? Did she lose sleep that night? I doubt it. Suddenly I was either not a suicide risk at all or I was still on the verge of killing myself and they were quite happy to push me over the edge. These people are not professionals in any meaningful sense of the word.

As soon as I woke up the following day I got dressed and walked down to their office, literally shaking with fear, to confront Pamela McDonald and get her to retract her nasty false allegation that I am an abuser and that I, in any way, abused Liz MacColl.


(to be contd…)

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Amateur Hour and Victim Blaming at Argyll and Bute Womens Aid. Part Deux


Pamela MacDonald and Liz, Argyll and Bute Women’s Aid, July 2012 – February 2013

Part Deux

Please bear in mind that ABWA admitted culpability to the Care Inspectorate for this debacle (but not to me, never to me) so I am not making this up. This shit actually happened.

So, as the events outlined in the rest of this blog had happened in the preceding 12 months, the very last thing I needed in my life was a duplicitous, bungling support worker. I could not, for the life of me, fathom what had happened when Liz suddenly decided to bail out on me and, when people asked me what had happened, I simply couldn’t tell them.

I was just absolutely devastated that a support relationship I thought was going fine had suddenly been taken away from me, my poor, late Mum was really upset and my partner actually cried when I told her, because she knew what was going to happen to me as a result of what was, in essence, a massive betrayal of my trust and far too similar to the majority of my initial abuse which basically revolved around me never being able to do anything right despite desperately trying to find out what was expected of me and the shifting of goalposts.

The one thing that even polite people said when I told them what Liz did was “That’s so unprofessional”. I can think of a few slightly stronger words than that. If I had needed support before Liz, I needed it even more afterwards. Unfortunately what she and her boss did was so damaging to me that I never have and never again will engage in any support, care or even healthcare relationship if I can help it.

I prefer to go it alone rather than risk inviting another useless support worker into my life. Instead of Liz accepting she was in any way at fault, she decided to blame me and, if we thought she had gone a bit bonkers, her boss was about to do a passable impression of someone with a serious case of Korsakoff Syndrome and I am being perfectly serious. Unfortunately, the next few months are a horrible messy blur for me. I was in an absolutely terrible state, I was crying all the time, depressed, bewildered, angry, powerless, helpless and my drinking and self harm got much, much worse. My Mum died not long after this and my Aunt got cancer and died not long after her.

These were terrible months. I don’t even know when it started to get better. What these people did to me is still affecting me to this day. It isn’t killing me any more but it still bothers me on an almost daily basis. I had many, many days and nights of crying and feeling betrayed. I was angry at myself for trusting this woman and for believing her. I felt like a fool because I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. I was far from the point at which I realised that it was entirely her and her inept management at fault. I texted and phoned ABWA trying to find out what had happened and I got told that poor Liz was receiving support (‘scuse me while I take some deep breaths here…) and she was fine, bless her and working as normal. Yes, everything was absolutely fine and normal with them….How was I? Not great? Oh dear, never mind. If you want another support worker, you can have one, you know where we are…Bye. ( At no time did they give, offer or plan to give me another support worker. And when I asked for one they refused. And, in any case, if I was the villain here, why would they simply offer me another worker?)

Enter Pamela MacDonald to the fray. In keeping with my general perception, formed over 6 years and shared with my refuge mates, that some ABWA staff don’t have enough work to keep them usefully occupied, she would phone me from time to time and add to my general misery by giving me a telling off. In a really patronising tone she would say “Will you stop texting Liz. Liz is not your support worker anymore. You know that, so stop texting her.” (Liz turned out to be what we call in Scotland, a clipe. It seems she showed text messages I sent her during and after the support relationship to all and sundry). She also never blocked my number – so she happily accepted the texts and then dobbed me in to her boss for sending them. Pamela MacDonald would tell me to stop contacting them and end the call by saying “you know where we are if you need support”. Every time I called them to ask what had happened I either got told to bugger off or they were banging on about poor Liz, the fragile little flower. (Sorry, I actually just laughed out loud there…) Never at any time was any support forthcoming. I was slowly being driven mad by the lack of an explanation from Liz (she could have died and it would have been easier to deal with) and by the messing about her boss was engaged in. I badly needed an explanation as to why the support relationship ended. This is why support relationships have to have planned endings!

Instead of having the integrity and insight to see that ABWA had messed up and doing the right thing and trying to assist me, they were toying with me. I say ‘they’ because MacDonald was not doing this out of a clear blue sky and for no reason whatsoever. She was being fed misinformation by Liz. This leads nicely on to the worst incident of all when Pamela MacDonald, Women’s Aid Manager and abuse victim advocate excelled herself, went into overdrive (she clearly felt she hadn’t abused me enough) and almost pushed me right over the edge. Pamela MacDonald, who pompously boasted “I’ve worked in the field of abuse for over 40 years and I know the definition of abuse and if you feel abused then you have been abused!” What she did would have been utterly appalling behaviour from anyone, but from a Women’s Aid Worker or Manager it goes beyond the pale and I literally cannot currently find the words to adequately describe it. Pamela MacDonald, if she worked in any normal organisation and wasn’t being carried and covered up for by her staff, would probably have lost her job for this. At the very least I hope she is being kept well away from service users. And Liz, the back-stabbing coward, who was supposedly so concerned about someone she “liked and respected” popping themselves off, sat in the office with the vicious bully and let her do it.

Amateur Hour and Victim Blaming at Argyll and Bute Womens Aid. Fin.


Care Quality Commission Still Failing Vulnerable People

They are to be given new powers in England in April but as g as they are not doing unannounced visits and allowing staff to present false facades, they will continue to let people down. A lot of planning goes into inspection visits so that on the surface everything looks fine and even when things do go wrong, the CQC is very limited in what it can actually do. The same applies in every case where support workers are being allowed to pretend that they’re doing the right thing one afternoon a year. It happened when I worked in care too but that’s a story for another day!

Thousands of allegations of abuse and neglect of elderly people were made in England last year, the BBC has learned. Some 14,888 claims about the welfare of care home residents aged 65 and over in 2013-14 were reported to 74 councils, 5 live Investigates has found. Relatives say the system designed to handle such complaints is flawed and they often go unheeded. The body representing senior social services managers says there needs to be more investment in care staff. Anyone is entitled to raise suspicions about a person’s care, and local authorities are obliged to look at the claims. If necessary, they launch what is known as a formal safeguarding investigation to decide what action should be taken.

But some families who have raised safeguarding concerns say the system is not working. Orchid View, which has since reopened under new management, was run by Southern Cross In West Sussex, 19 people died after suffering “sub-optimal care” at the Orchid View care home in Copthorne. The problems at Orchid View came to light following a police investigation that started in 2011 – but in a two-year period before that, families and health workers had been raising concerns about the care in the home. A serious case review into the Orchid View scandal revealed there had been 20 separate safeguarding referrals. The home has since closed. A number of those concerns were substantiated but it was not until the police inquiry started that the decision was taken to shut the home.

Families want to know why action was not taken sooner given that so many safeguarding investigations had taken place. Enid Trodden died less than a year after going into the home Lesley Lincoln said she complained constantly about the care given to her late mother, Enid Trodden. She says she wrote letters raising concerns to health professionals, the Care Quality Commission and the council’s safeguarding team but she says no-one saw it as a safeguarding issue. “I felt I was tearing my hair out and nobody was listening,” she said. “It was only treated as a safeguarding alert after I raised the roof when she went into hospital,” she says. “It was only after my mother’s death and the inquest, I realised there had been so many (safeguarding) referrals at Orchid View.”

In a statement, West Sussex County Council said: “We take all safeguarding concerns extremely seriously. We are working hard to reduce the likelihood of a repeat ever happening again and this includes work to implement all the recommendations of the serious case review.”

The Local Government Ombudsman has also investigated cases where families have felt the safeguarding system has not worked. In one case, the ombudsman found a council was at fault after its safeguarding team asked the home at the centre of an allegation of poor care to conduct its own safeguarding investigation. In other cases the ombudsman found delays in launching safeguarding inquiries, poor investigations and that families had not been given information. Seventy-four councils out of 152 responded to the request by 5 live Investigates to state the number of safeguarding referrals they had received for people aged 65 and over in care homes – the first investigation of its kind.

Between them they reported that they had received 14,888 referrals. Of those, 4,523 – about one third – were substantiated. If all the councils approached had provided data, the overall figure would obviously be higher. David Pearson, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said: “Needs are rising as resources are falling. Adult social services have sustained a 26% reduction in funding since 2010. “Prevention is better than cure and we need to ensure there is sufficient training and investment in care staff. “It is crucial that we have sufficient social workers working with other professionals to carry out investigations.”

The Department of Health called the abuse and neglect of vulnerable people “deplorable”. A spokesman said the new Care Act which comes into law in April will give the Care Quality Commission greater powers to prosecute providers and company directors for unacceptable care and introduce new, tougher standards for inspecting care homes.

NHS staff afraid to speak out, whistleblower report finds

A review into the treatment of NHS whistleblowers has heard “shocking” stories about staff who raised concerns being ignored, bullied or intimidated.


“Sir Robert said he had learned from previous inquiries of the distress caused to patients and their families when their concerns were not listened to. He said the same was true of NHS workers.

Staff who are not supported “can suffer hugely,” he said.

“I’ve heard some frankly shocking stories about [staff] whose health has suffered, and in rare cases who’ve felt suicidal as a result of their perception of them being ignored or worse,” he said.”

So, basically, when they aren’t bullying patients, they’re bullying each other! And when they feel suicidal they expect sympathy but don’t always choose to afford it to others.

The Care Quality Commission does it again. Fails miserably, that is.

GPs have told the BBC their reputations have been “tarnished by incompetence” from the health watchdog.

The Care Quality Commission has been forced to apologise to hundreds of GPs for giving incorrect patient safety risk ratings.

A BBC investigation found serious errors in the calculations used by the CQC.

The British Medical Association is calling for the whole ratings system to be withdrawn.

Around 60 practices have been taken out of the highest risk categories and four low-risk surgeries need early inspection.

John Flather, a GP in Hadleigh, Suffolk, said his practice had been incorrectly banded as high risk.

He said he was “totally disgusted by the process” and that a formal complaint had been made.

He told the BBC: “Our reputation, which has been built over many years, has been tarnished by incompetence that they purport to eradicate.

“If they had only given us a chance to view their ratings we could have pointed out their errors and avoided this mess.”

Dr Chris Cullen, from Ipswich, said: “My practice was rated for highest risk despite being one of the very high achieving practices in the country.

“The CQC claim we gave flu jabs to 24% of our patients, in fact it was over 96%.

“Our true rating should be for lowest risk, but the CQC aren’t interested and have not returned our calls.”

Bad data

Practices were judged on 38 indicators of performance, ranging from how easily patients managed to get appointments to how good doctors were at picking up conditions such as dementia.

Practices were graded in six bands, with Band 1 being the highest concern, and Band 6 the least risky.

The majority were of low concern, but 11% were rated in the highest risk band.

The BBC discovered that for one indicator, whether patients were able to get an appointment with a GP or nurse the last time they tried, the calculations were so flawed that the CQC has been forced to remove the indicator altogether.

A further four indicators had to be refined based on revisions to data provided to the CQC by NHS England.

Hundreds of practices will now be assigned a different band.

In its initial register, published two weeks ago, the health watchdog ranked 7,276 practices out of the total 7,661 in England, and placed 864 practices in the “highest concern” category.


Original rankings

GP survey

As a result of the recalculations, around 60 practices will be lifted out of the two “highest concern” categories, and four that were previously deemed low-risk have been found to be in need of early inspection.

The CQC says 519 practices will move bands, but most were between the lowest risk bands.

The CQC register was set up to help target inspections, and the watchdog said it did not necessarily indicate poor GP surgery performance.

Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals for the CQC, told the BBC: “We will make them a big apology. This only became apparent when we ran the data on the thousands of practices rather than just the hundreds that we tested them on.”

He defended the publication of the risk bands in the interest of transparency.

He said: “We are using the data to help us know where we might go first. Our judgement comes from a combination of data and inspection. The main thing that is going to matter is that we are going to be inspecting every practice.”



Dr Khan, Dunoon Community Hospital A&E Dept. 16 December 2012

Before I continue I want to say that I have the utmost respect for all of the nursing staff who have cared for me at Dunoon Community Hospital. They have gone a considerable way towards restoring my faith in the profession and have been absolutely wonderful to me and my family whenever we’ve needed their care. They put into practise on a daily basis all the good things about the nursing profession and my community is fortunate to have them.

The person who let them, and me, down badly was a General Practitioner working in their A&E department. His total lack of care, concern and respect for the Mental Health Act and common decency resulted in me being physically manhanded by two police officers and sent to a hospital 40 miles and a 2 hour ambulance journey away when it was completely unnecessary and medically unjustified.

These are the bruises I received from being wrestled to the ground and HANDCUFFED by police when I went to A&E for care. These photos were taken about a week after the fact:

Bruises left arm Bruises both arms Bruises right arm

I was then given an injection of diazepam against my will whilst still handcuffed and perfectly calm and shortly thereafter I was again injected against my will – with chlorpromazine, a drug referred to as The Chemical Cosh which is usually given to control people who are experiencing psychotic episodes. Both injections were totally unnecessary.

I got these injuries, and the rough handling that caused them, because of the failure of a doctor called Dr Khan to properly do the job he was paid for. I also suffered severe pain in my right elbow for weeks afterwards, which was completely unnecessary and entirely triggered by Dr Khan. This and the rest of the things that happened to me that night were a direct result of his failure to properly care for me.

This was the last time I sought healthcare from my local hospital.

Since writing this, I have had a meeting with two managers at the hospital who informed me that what Dr Khan did was wrong, that he apologised (not to me, he didn’t), that changes have been implemented and that this would never happen again.

However, in the absence of evidence of this I am still unwilling to trust the hospital with my care.

(to be contd.)


FOUR separate parts of NHS fail, NHS Complaints Process fails and Ombudsman fails.

NHS blunders led to Devon toddler’s death

A string of blunders by NHS workers led to the death of a three-year-old Devon boy, a review has found.

Sam Morrish died in December 2010 from a treatable condition because four health service organisations made mistakes, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said. He died of severe sepsis after a “catalogue of errors”. Sam’s parents also said they had “serious concerns about the competence and accountability” of the ombudsman. Ombudsman Dame Julie Mellor said that had Sam received the appropriate care, he would still be alive today. Cricketfield GP Surgery, NHS Direct, Devon Doctors Ltd and South Devon NHS Trust were all criticised. Failures included inadequate assessment of the toddler, not recognising that he was vomiting blood and a three-hour delay before he received antibiotics at hospital. His family said as well as losing their son, they feel they have been “failed” by the NHS complaints system. In a statement released through the Patients Association, they also criticised the ombudsman.

“The astonishing length of time it has taken for PHSO to finalise this report has inescapably prolonged our distress.

“Although we are grateful that the PHSO has upheld our complaints… we are left with serious concerns about the competence, capability and accountability of the PHSO itself.” Sam’s mother Susannah Morrish said: “The report looks the way it does because of our constant intervention. “The fact there had to be two draft reports, both of which looked radically different to this final report, says something. “Our involvement included providing information, pointing out omissions, correcting factual errors. “Our thoughts were if we didn’t do this, who would?” Sam’s father Scott Morrish said: “The thing that we’re still trying to push for is, we’re not clear who the ombudsman is accountable to, we’re not clear who really understands what happens behind the scenes there, and we’re not entirely sure that Parliament is actually able to look at anything more than what comes out in the report.” Dame Julie said: “I accept that the family are right that the investigation method used in this case was not adequate to the complexity of the case. “I really recognise that this contributed to the family’s distress and we have apologised for that and thanked the family for their feedback on the particular method we used in this case, because we are developing new investigation methods.”

Dame Julie said that Sam’s devastated family suffered “further injustice” because health officials failed to properly investigate the youngster’s death.

“But this case has to be looked at in the context of taking on over 4,000 cases to investigate every year, and receiving very few complaints about the quality of our decision making. “When we do, we treat it like gold dust to help us improve our service. “We’ve published this case so that the wider NHS learns from Sam’s death,” she added. NHS England was ordered to pay £20,000 to the family. Mr Morrish said: “The irony is we never wanted to lodge a formal complaint. “We only did because we were advised to by the Patients Association in response to the NHS completely getting it wrong, not once, but twice. “We didn’t want it to be about blame, we wanted it to result in good learning.”


Key recommendations

  • Cricketfield Surgery should train reception staff in directing patients through telephone triage system
  • NHS England should review out-of-hours guidelines and ensure other NHS organisations regularly test their own procedures
  • South Devon and Torbay Clinical Care Groups (CCGs), Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG and South Devon NHS Trust should provide bereavement services to families such as the Morrishes
  • Staff should be trained in bereavement services
  • South Devon and Torbay CCG and Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG should develop procedures for investigating serious incidents
  • Within three months, there should be people at the organisations trained to investigate serious incidents
  • The Morrishes should be paid £20,000
line break

Dr Graham Lockerbie, speaking on behalf of the local NHS, said: “Sam died when he should have survived.” “We all accept the blame for that. Quite simply, we should have done better. “When we investigated, we were still unable to provide adequate answers to Mr and Mrs Morrish about what had gone wrong, or to reassure them that things would change for the future. It is clear that this only compounded their grief. “Again, on behalf of the local NHS, I apologise.”  

I’m going to wager a guess that there are two reasons the Health Ombudsman receives very few complaints about its decisions: One, because they often fail to bother investigating instances of poor care anyway and two, because once you’ve gone through the effort involved in taking a legitimate complaint TO the Ombudsman, you are absolutely done with complaining and fail to see the point of getting back to them yet again.