Brexit and Mental Health

brexit

Brexit, like it or not is a reality. 54% of the public voted in a referendum for us to leave the EU. I watched with despair as events unfolded and was almost praying for us to stay in as I feared that a Brexit decision could really send my End Of Terror situation spiralling out of control. Post-Brexit, if I believed in restricting people’s liberties for thought crime and nowt else and I had the power as a psychiatrist, then maybe I’d be sentencing 54% of the population for section detainment in mental hospitals for making a completely irrational decision in voting, a decision I believe that long term will make the entire UK suffer, economically, politically and more importantly, to End Of Terror, within the mental health system.

Why the big fear, you may ask? Firstly, one of the core components of EU membership is that EU citizens have access to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. This court, although I’ve never used it personally, acts as a safeguard for human rights. I’ve always dreamed of getting over to Strasbourg and felt that it would be one of the only places in which to get justice for End Of Terror. I will never realise that goal. But,many good things have come from Strasbourg over the years and indirectly it has safeguarded all those unnecessarily under the cosh, detained in UK mental health institutions. One piece of legislation that has been delivered through the presence of the EU Human Rights Court, is our own country’s Human Rights Act (1998). This Act came into being under the supervision of the Tony Blair government and basically enshrined EU Human Rights legislation into British Law.

I have always felt that the Human Rights Act is incompatible with the Mental Health Act. The fundamental freedoms it enshrines are usurped once the Mental Health Act is invoked. I have constantly tried to argue a Human Rights case for myself, even in the Mental Health Tribunal Courts, quoting the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights and referring to Strasbourg and indeed the Human Rights Act. Most debate, however, falls on deaf ears, and the tribunal courts tend to favour the misplaced incorrect mindset of Mental Health Workers who generally claim that the Mental Health Act is more important than any human rights legislation and overrides it. Treatment against consent is my main bugbear with the Mental Health Act and any fool can see that this is incompatible with virtually all that Human Rights laws suggest.

Brexit has created not just deep divisions in society, but also a pre-Revolution like political fallout. Both major parties – Labour and Conservative, are quarrelling within their ranks and their infighting is spilling over into a tense political anarchy, spreading like wildfire across the Nation. Brexiteers are abandoning their pre-referendum promises and also withdrawing on the whole from their ideology, as they resign from political decisions, themselves surprised that they duped the British voting public so wonderfully. I need not mention the falls of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, all leading campaigners for Brexit, who have all not quite stood up to their vision. The reality is that there is a great political awkwardness lying in the immediate future for those decision-makers that have to actually go ahead and invoke Article 5o of the European Constitution and officially make the UK no longer an EU member. These shirkers will rear their ugly heads at some distant point in the future to carry on their warped visions and lies.

It was already a major part of David Cameron and the Conservative Party’s plans to terminate the Human Rights Act and to replace it with a UK Bill of Rights. The Human Rights Act was a Labour policy and is loathsome to rightist politicians. It is a safeguard that protects and restricts Conservative policies. Perhaps a tonic to Cameron as he resigned in the wake of Brexit, was that Britian leaving the EU would enhance the powers of those opposed to Human Rights legislation as the people of this country would no longer be able to challenge the UK government in Strasbourg, thus consolidating more power in Westminster. However, the Brexit fallout is not all rosy for the mental health system and those who rely on the comfort of human rights. Theresa May is our new unelected Prime Minister, avoiding even the vote selection for leader of the Conservatives from within the party ranks. At End Of Terror we have already pleaded with Theresa May to sort out the situation with Mental Health and Policing in South East Wales. She was home secretary for the vast duration of the period when the police and mental healthers stepped up their violent pursuit, culminating in them opening fire on me with a taser through the letterbox at home (see articles on Police Brutality and Mental Health). I tweeted Theresa May but like David Cameron, she just completely ignored End Of Terror, a response that we are well used to seeing from policymakers and the powers that be, in general. Theresa May is dangerous to Mental Health as she has some radically twisted views on human rights and wherever possible has exercised her parliamentary powers to vote against any form of human rights that would protect people within the Mental Health system. I just hope that now she has reached her zenith of power, in being Prime Minister, that perhaps she has the responsibility to change her views. She promises a better Britain for all and I pray she delivers this FOR ALL, and not just the privileged few.

It’s not all bad, perhaps, for mental health detainees. I’ve pondered Brexit substantially and one of the possible benefits could be that due to the falling pound, the departure from the Common Market and tighter budget restrictions there could be a corresponding fall in budget expenditure for mental health and policing. Mental Health spending was supposed to reach parity with Physical Health spending and this goal is far from being realised and is very distant on the horizon. I think that in a shrinking economy with less access to European markets, psychiatry, whose total reliance on Big Pharma with its almost pure dedication to pharmaceuticals, may be forced to tighten its purse strings. A lot of psychiatric medicines are produced abroad and imported into the UK. With the pound demolished and the exchange rate to Euro and indeed dollar damaged, the cost of bulk buying mental health medicines from abroad could almost double in real terms. Tariffs on European imports will further exacerbate these costs. Will we see a move towards non-pharmaceutical interventions in mental health? Will the oft-neglected talking therapies enter fashion? Will the taxpaying public support rising pharmaceutical expenditure, on drugs that are very iffy at best and have no scientific or medical foundation?

Looking towards the Mental Health Review Tribunal Courts, any change in Human Rights legislation could alter the way that they work. Most people are not aware that the current status quo has been changed slightly in favour of patients at Tribunals due to the Human Rights Act. At present the onus of responsibility in the courts for burden of proof falls upon the detaining authority to prove that ongoing detention of an appealing patient is warranted. Any loss of human rights laws could lead to a reversal of this situation thus making the patient’s job of appealing against section detainment even more difficult. Already the courts decisions are heavily weighted to rule against patients, with only approximately 5% of appeals resulting in success for patients.

An interesting point to note and one that I have already touched upon in a previous article – Immigrant Doctors on the NHS – Will there be fewer foreign doctors and therefore psychiatrists as a result of Brexit? I do not believe that positions of such power and responsibility should be allocated to immigrants in psychiatry. I do not feel that foreigners truly understand the nature of our society as they have not been nurtured in it. I would welcome fewer immigrant psychiatrists. However, on the flipside, I think that fewer foreign mental patients, nurses and cleaners could be detrimental to mental hospitals as it would essentially reduce the complexity of the usual rich biodiversity of nationalities they contain. I’m sure foreign patients such as the Italian Allesandra Pacchieri might be glad not to be in the UK mental health system, most certainly after her terrifying ordeal here.

Research is one area of society dependant on Europe and its links with universities across Europe, sharing their studies and cross-funding. Already the science of mental health is most imprecise – it is a pseudoscience at best. The lack of research as a consequence of Brexit will leave us ever deeper in the dark ages of this medieval-like system of torture.

On the whole I think that Brexit produces a new, more isolated society with fewer safeguards in place that will lead to more suffering for mental patients and an increased government reliance on the oppressive system that mental health provides. Isolation and a warped power sense triggered the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Remember that post WW2, one of the mechanisms set up to prevent the incidence of Nazism from ever reappearing, was the creation of closer international co-operation via the European Union. It mustn’t be forgotten that one of the first groups of people Hitler tested the concentration camp system upon were Germany’s mental patients. Often it is in times of crisis that mental patients’ suffering is at its most acute.

Brexit Britain, cast adrift from continental Europe, will be a lonesome island, its asylums even lonelier, darker, more eery than ever. Big Pharma is too far embedded to disappear and I fear that the new government, most certainly outside of the European safeguard mechanisms, will further erode human rights making an easier triumph for the fascist powers that control mental health and perpetuate modern day psychiatric slavery.

Interesting internet articles:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/29/eu-referendum-mental-health-vote

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Rights_Act_1998

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Court_of_Human_Rights

http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

 

 

 

Immigrant Doctors on the NHS: A Good Thing or Bad Thing?

nigel farageNot wanting to sound the horn or anything, but: PEOPLE, THERE IS A GENERAL ELECTION COMING UP! Come May unless you adhere to Russell Brand’s non-voting strategy, then you could well be heading to the polling booth. We heard of ‘weaponising the NHS in the buildup and it looks like a weird old forthcoming election with the rise of UKIP and some pretty unsettling times here in the UK and indeed in the wider world.

I put a picture of Farage on this post as I have heard time and time again people citing immigration as a key issue. I am very pro-European in essence. As a Translation student and a man with a passion for foreign languages, I embrace the ‘otherness’ of cultures from abroad. I think that in expelling immigrants and abandoning the European we would instantly be cats back into the stone age. Immigration brings us a net benefit in terms of capital, cultural diversity and skills in the workplace, plus it would be rather difficult to study foreign languages in the education sector if all foreigners are thrown out à la Farage.

But, politics aside, immigration is a real issue. We hear of how our NHS is full of nurses and doctors from abroad. In fact, I believe that I am correct in saying that proportionally, the NHS employs more foreign workers than the average organisation.
I think that in healthcare, some of my pro-immigration views do distort. I can especially remember when my dying grandmother was in hospital. She came from a pre 1960s immigration boom generation. She was supporting an RAF pilot during WW2 and part of the incredible effort made by home soil women during that conflict. Her values and ideas were very old-fashioned and quite a bit different from my own. I felt a bit ashamed when she was openly cursing foreign NHS workers during her treatment. I found it a little rude, but, who am I to judge? I come from a more tolerant generation whose values have been shaped by a different set of problems and I live in a more or less totally globalised world. I wonder though, how the older, often politically silent generation feel about their healthcare needs being attended to by foreigners.

We are constantly told how our education and especially higher education system is among the best in the world. If that is the case, why can not one of our biggest national establishments, the NHS, fill its parole with home-born, home-educated, British doctors and nurses? Are we lacking in the educational field for medicine? Are salaries in the NHS really that dire? We recruit from abroad in our healthcare sectors. Doctors and Nurses who have trained up and learnt their craft in a different educational environment, in nations where we do not control the political systems and where life values are very much different.

I would argue that surgery is surgery and a surgeon, who is treating the body, usually of an unconscious patient, is either skilled and capable or not, wherever he has been taught medicine. He is not necessarily having to speak to a patient. He has no real need to understand them, and he has no real political power in terms of affecting that patient’s life, bar saving it from a scientific bodily perspective.

At the other end of the top pay-scale NHS bracket, however, is consultant psychiatrists. They have no surgical function. They allegedly ‘treat’ mental issues, which are societal in nature and where the medical science is extremely lacking. My argument against psychiatrists, is that they have much more scope for errors in judgement. A psychiatrist who makes poor decisions can cover up their mistakes with political obfuscation. Their failures are buried in the system. They take people’s liberty, have the facility to treat against consent and their process takes on average a much longer period. They have more long term impact on a patient’s life and can be severely disruptive even if they happen to be benefitting the patient. A surgeon who makes an error on the operating table has little recourse for excuse-making as the patient will usually directly have a major emergency issue or the health problem (where science is a lot more accurate) will not dissipate.

When you take into account the societal factors affecting mental illness and introduce immigrant psychiatrists to the equation we have a whole host of medical ethics issues. I can understand the internationalisation of academia, especially in today’s world. A medical degree in Prague, could carry equal weight as one from Delhi or London. Faculties exchange ideas, information and share resources. However, how can the value system of a a foreigner, born and brought up in a different land, be shaped as to fit the needs of patients in the host country?

Over the 18 years I’ve been in the UK mental health system, I can actually count the number of UK born, UK raised, UK qualified psychiatrists who have treated me on one hand. There has been a rainbow of different nationalities involved in the senior position of psychiatrist in my healthcare, which on the whole has been very suppressive and done entirely against my consent, involving large quantities of restricted liberty. I’ve had consultant psychiatrists from Sri Lanka (Dr Nirmalie Mirando), Poland (Dr Agnieszca Tyson) and my current one is from Iraq (Dr Nahla Jamil). Other psychiatrists who have treated me hail from Sudan (Dr. Ali, Dr. Ahmed), India / Pakistan (unknown – several), Egypt (Dr Nimkar) other African doctors. There is a multitude of senior professionals who have had a lot of power invested in them by the British system. I question the ability of these doctors to be subjective and to truly understand British values and the psychiatry of people who are nurtured in this country. Most of them only arrived on these shores post- qualification, as young adults. They know little about core UK cultural values and textbooks I’m afraid are no substitute for living the real British life. I find these foreigners to be often lacking in critical understanding of what it is to be British. Often their medical knowledge of their subject field is vastly superior to the British psychiatrists that I have encountered. However, these doctors can be quite irrational and lack understanding. If you had been educated and brought up in a civil war environment, or behind the depths of the Iron Curtain, or in a land where Jihadism is rife and governments are notable for their lack of organisation, how can you hope to understand the complex nature of the United Kingdom and its remnants of Empire? Perhaps it is these very remnants which leads these doctors here to practise in the first place?

I object to almost omnipotent unchecked power being awarded to foreign nationals, whatever their qualifications, as it leads to controversial issues which the almost childlike, trusting, naive nature of UK authorities cannot bring to heel. If these foreigners ever had malicious intent it would be far too easy for them to disrupt future generations of Britain through the suppressive nature of irresponsible legislation such as the Mental Health Act.

In the USA, they have a sensible law that states that the US President has to be a US born US citizen. Does this make the USA a racist, undemocratic country?

For or against foreigners in the NHS? I see the mental health branch of the NHS being an overall disgrace and believe that foreigners elevated to positions of power within it is a dangerous policy for senior NHS recruitment managers.

I don’t believe in force and enjoy the ideology of democracy so I won’t force my ideas down your throat. It’s just an experience-based opinion and despite being on the whole pro-immigration, I feel that there should be rational balances and checks in place to protect the native-born nationals of these Isles.