“We suspect you have committed a criminal offence and that this offence is continuing.” So say the letters written by the UK’s government health watchdog the Care Quality Commission as a result of my BBC Radio 4 investigation. The letters warn the unregistered companies treating addicts coming off alcohol and drugs that the penalty for providing medical services without being registered is up to a year in prison. I discovered that some of these companies and many websites supply potentially lethal quantities of medication to withdraw from alcohol sometimes with no health checks. Listen to my report on BBC Radio 4.
Drug related deaths in Scotland in 2018 have reached almost 1200 the highest figure since records began in 1996. They’ve gone up almost 30% in a year the highest annual rise since records began. Deaths in some areas have more than doubled. Scotland already had the highest rate of drug deaths in the EU but has now overtaken the USA to become the country with the highest per capita death rate in the world. Scottish drugs charities say people are dying waiting for drug treatment. Listen to my report on BBC Radio 4
Black men in England are 10 x more likely to experience psychosis than white men. But 3 recent studies of 60,000 children found black boys have fewer or no more mental health problems than white boys. What is going wrong? Listen to my BBC Radio 4 report https://bit.ly/2EbS8X0
Medical professionals assess up to 82% of people who kill themselves to be at no risk or low risk of suicide even if they’re seen in the week of their death. Could Artificial Intelligence do better? The first of my series mental health reports for BBC Radio 4 was a headline on the PM programme.
My first ever TV report on mental health went out on BBC1 earlier this year! While attacks on mental health staff in England have soared by over a third in 4 years one mental health Trust in a deprived area of East London has bucked the trend and achieved what they say is a world first reducing violence by up to 90%. And it hasn’t cost a penny extra and they haven’t used any extra medication. http://ow.ly/195y30n97UC
My story about life threatening practices at UK private rehabs – which after £300 million in cuts to state treatment now dominate the rehab market – headlines the news on Radio 4. Listen at the top of the programme and 32 minutes past the hour http://ow.ly/YmF730jgCey
My piece on the UK’s alcohol crisis that the government is doing nothing about according to one of their own MPs headlines the BBC news on the World at One on Radio 4. Tory MP Fiona Bruce – Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on alcohol harm – says the government is “neither recognising nor addressing” this crisis which is affecting millions of people. Hospital admissions for alcohol have doubled in a decade reaching their highest levels ever – over 1.1 million. The latest figures show deaths from alcohol have reached their highest level since records began. While the number of people accessing publicly funded detox and rehab for alcohol has almost halved since 2013 when £300 million of cuts to substance misuse funding started. And almost half of units offering publicly funded detox have closed since then.
During my investigation for BBC Radio 4 I have discovered that local authorities in England have cut over £300 million from funding for drug and alcohol treatment in 5 years. In the same period deaths from heroin and morphine overdoses in England have more than doubled. The number of drug and alcohol related deaths in England is now at the highest level since records began. The governments own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs links the cuts to the deaths and says that, as further cuts are planned, deaths will soar even higher. Listen to my report on Radio 4.
I am back on the BBC! They liked my story about the “drastic” and “shocking” cuts to prison drug treatment at a time when even the Prisons Minister says the drugs situation in English prisons is “unacceptable” so much that it was headlining the news. Have a listen and let me know what you think.
My writing about addiction and mental health for national newspapers is having a major impact! A Cross party Parliamentary group of UK MPs is to meet on July 12th to discuss my latest Guardian investigation – massive funding cuts for drug and alcohol treatment which is leading to deaths. http://ow.ly/sCJ030czKgt
Please send me exclusive story ideas about mental health and addiction that have not been covered before by national media. I am now working on stories for BBC Radio as well as the Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Times and the Telegraph
This return to professional journalism at 12 years clean is welcome after crashing out of my career as a reporter for the BBC and national newspapers because of my drug addiction and mental health problems in 2005.
Thank you for supporting my blog without which this return to professional journalism would never have happened.