There has been an explosion of clinical trials involving psychedelic drugs for treatment resistant mental health problems in the UK. Three major trials of psilocybin the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, started in London earlier this year. The US Food and Drug Administration licensed a variant of the party drug Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. But are these drugs the greatest breakthrough in psychiatry since modern anti-depressants and anti-psychotics or are the benefits only temporary or placebo? Listen to my BBC Radio 4 report.
The family whose 16 year old son William Jordan killed himself at the Priory Hospital last year have written to police calling for a criminal investigation into the group. Earlier this year the Priory Group was fined £300,000 for breaching Health and safety laws in connection with the death of 14 year old Amy El Keria at one of their hospitals. My report was a headline on BBC1 TV and and BBC Radio 4.
Who says Britain’s National Health Service is not for sale? Almost half of all expenditure on Child and Adolescent mental health inpatient beds in the UK in the past 5 years has gone to private hospitals – mainly to the American owned Priory Group. Last year a Coroner said serious failings by staff at the Priory, Britain’s largest private provider of mental healthcare, has possibly contributed to 16 year old William Jordan’s suicide in one of their hospitals. Earlier this year the group received a fine of hundreds of thousands of pounds after pleading guilty to health and safety charges in connection with death of a 14 year old girl in 2012. I went to speak to William Jordan’s bereaved parents Mark and Wendy Jordan for my report for BBC Radio 4.
In a statement to the BBC, The Priory said it strongly refuted the allegation that it put making money ahead of patient safety. In a statement it said “Of our 85 CQC-registered healthcare sites, 88.2% are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ overall. By comparison, the figure is 78% for NHS mental healthcare sites. Our services remain among the safest in England. Since this exceptionally sad incident, we took immediate action to address patient safety, including the installation of a CCTV patient-safety system, enhanced and specialist staff training, and the creation of 12 ‘safer’ rooms to support our most unwell patients. Swift disciplinary action was taken by the Priory Group against staff who failed to act in accordance with Priory observation policy. A CQC report, following a visit in October 2018 and published in December 2018, states ‘we found the provider had made good progress regarding our concerns.’ The hospital is under new leadership, and we have recruited additional, experienced staff to support our child and adolescent services.”
“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
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.