Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Progress to smoke-free mental health: Scottish Government rides roughshod over consultation findings

A mental health project has given its ringing endorsement to work currently being done to create a smoke-free mental health service in Scotland.

Freedom to Choose Scotland has issued a press release on this project following last week's Written Answers. In answer to Richard Simpson MSP, Health Secretary, Shona Robison gave this answer (emphasis added):
In March 2010, following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, we announced that new guidance would be prepared to help mental health residential service providers move towards establishing smoke-free environments. The aim of this guidance, which is being developed by NHS Health Scotland in consultation with key stakeholders and service users, will be to drive change at a pace which is acceptable to individual services, and, most importantly, to the service users themselves.
As we stated in the press release, supported with references, the consultation results in no way endorsed this course of action, with over 50 per cent of respondents (including over 80 per cent of patient groups) voting to retain the smoking ban exemption that has existed for psychiatric facilities since the smoking ban came in, and only 12 per cent of respondents voting for 'guidance' (meaning effectively bringing in changes to smoking provisions laid down by health boards piecemeal and through the back door). The notion that this is intended to do anything recommended by patients on this issue is breathtakingly inaccurate.

Also referred to in the press release is mention of 'residential' service providers. The public consultation did not refer to any difference between acute and continuing care patients, although an earlier consultation with service providers found that almost half had reservations with imposing a smoking ban on continuing care patients even though most of them thought a ban would be appropriate for acute patients. The word 'residential' (rather than 'clinical') suggests strongly that a comprehensive smoking ban for all services including continuing care services is now planned.

Digital Feat pronounced the following in their account: 
In January 2009, the Scottish Government consulted stakeholders, service users and the public on the best way to achieve smoke-free mental health services in Scotland. The consultation sought views on the production of detailed guidance without the need to amend existing legislation. As no clear consensus emerged on how to move towards smoke-free mental health services, guidance was viewed as a solution which avoided legislative bureaucracy and could effect change quickly.
Author Duncan doesn't observe that many people in the consultation expressed open disagreement with the very idea of smoke-free mental health services. In other words although respondents were asked whether they wanted to keep the current exemption, it seems clear from the rest of the consultation that the question was how, not whether, mental health services should go smoke-free. Duncan clearly has no problem with further change being managed a) in spite of service users' wishes, clearly expressed in the Consultation, and b) without being subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

Freedom to Choose (Scotland) last year mounted a petition on this consultation in 2009. Our final submission to the Public Petitions Committee is here. The petition was closed in September 2009 without any of its concerns being publicly aired. Why am I surprised?

They never listen.


Eddie Douthwaite said...

The devious nature of the Scottish Government truly exposed.

Well done Belinda

subrosa said...

I always feel like screaming when I'm referred to as a 'service user' rather than a patient.

Michael J. McFadden said...

"Our final submission to the Public Petitions Committee is here. The petition was closed in September 2009 without any of its concerns being publicly aired."

That's absolutely disgraceful. It's the PUBLIC PETITIONS COMMITTEE. The petitions, comments, signatures, all and whatever should be open for public inspection. It's not called the SECRET PRIVATE PETITIONS COMMITTEE!

If the record is not open then there is no way at all to verify what they have. "Hi! We're just going to take the ballot box into the back room to count the votes. Trust us! We'll count them rite cuz we're the guvvernmint!"

It's amazing you were able to get that basic 80% / 12% information. I have to wonder if even THAT might be slanted as much as they dared? Maybe the real #s were 90% and 7%.


I will give Duncan one small piece of credit though: He seems to have allowed dissenting voices on his blog. I'll always grant some respect to an opposition that has control of the microphone and doesn't simply shut it off.
Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

westcoast2 said...

This is outrageous. It was not just devious it was brazen and openly authoritarian.

They totaly ignored the consultation and continued with an agenda supported by very few. How can they claim any legitimacy?

Anonymous said...

If I were a long term mental patient and was refused a smoke I would kill as many staff as I could.
As a mental patient what could anybody do to me ?
I hope a few staff get hurt trying to force patients to not smoke.

Eddie Douthwaite said...


I would never advocate the use of violence by patients suffering mental illness against anyone under any circumstances especially those trying to help them.

Many of the staff who work in this environment smoke themselves and are also being subjected to the governments "denormalisation" programme by new anti-smoking clauses in their contracts of employment.

The Unions must take a firm stance on this issue and ensure that the question of whether a person smokes or not has nothing to do with their employment.

It is nothing short of Government inspired discrimination.

Belinda said...

Michael: all the submissions are publicly available, but no opportunity was provided for discussion in the committee room and no oral evidence was invited.