A Ministry of Defence review commissioned after 6 male soldiers were arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 17 year old female soldier has found “unacceptable” and “persistent” inappropriate sexual behaviour in the armedforces. The review sets up a new body, The Defence Authority, to deal with such behaviour and complaints about how the military police deal with reports of serious offences such as sex crimes. But the MOD’s own figures show its getting worse at investigating sexual offences. Listen to my BBC Radio 4 report.
A mum from the North of England has pleaded with the National Health Service to give her 11 year old medicinal cannabis after he was placed on an end of life care plan. Angela Norton from Macclesfield has 2 children with drug resistant epilepsy. She says the controversial medication could be their only hope of living. Figures out earlier this year from the NHS show that no-one was recorded as being prescribed medicinal cannabis by GPs in the whole of England last year despite the drugs being legalised in November 2018. Watch my BBC report on North West Tonight.
I confront the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock as to why young children with epilepsy are being offered End of Life Care Plans or major brain surgery rather than medical cannabis? Listen to my report on BBC Radio 4.
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.”
Come to see my first ever standup comedy gig. As readers of bloginhotpants will know, I am the most successful and attractive person in the online dating universe. The number of years I’ve spent on dating websites: 20. The number of people I’ve slept with: 1.
Maybe there’s a problem with my dating username “Bunny Boiler.” That was what the only man I fancied on Guardian Soulmates called me on our first date. Actually our only date. But I have had a real boyfriend in the last fifteen years. Fourteen years ago. He was an ex-armed robber, pimp and drug dealer. Who says men can’t multi-task?
The Museum of Comedy The Undercroft St George’s Church Bloomsbury Way London WC1A 2SR Wednesday 2nd October 7pm turn up or book here https://bit.ly/2mP2cQe
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
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.
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.