20 people attended a very informative and interesting session with our guest speaker, Paul Noyes from the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWC). Paul knows the hospital well from his years as the MWC’s Edinburgh representative.
The MWC acts as a watchdog, safeguarding service users, and as a guide dog, helping folk through the maze of services. It’s independent and influential. Its three main strands are: visiting and monitoring; investigations and casework; information and advice. Its annual report and website (www.mwcscot.org.uk) are good sources of information. It challenges services to get the best care for patients and ensure that individual care and treatment is within the law.
Their new leader is Colin McKay, whose background is in law rather than medicine and there are several new managers including a new post designed to improve Engagement & Participation with service users and carers. Two new part-time peer support roles are being created. The Commission now has more of a human rights focus: “We protect and promote the human rights of people with mental health problems, learning disabilities, dementia and related conditions”.
One recently published report on “Suspension of Detention” raises concerns about over-intrusive orders months after discharge and lack of focus on employment, activities and other recovery focussed interventions.
We discussed a range of topics including the care and treatment of physical ailments within mental health settings; suicide enquiries; and defining human rights. For example, there is no human right to access Facebook or to smoke. We need to work out how to keep people safe and manage risk rather than just, for example, taking away mobiles phones. Any restriction of liberty must be underpinned by a legal process.