Wednesday 25 September 2013


Some of what I missed this summer

So, I have been back in work for a couple of weeks on light duties, the pain from my back largely relieved but a pale shadow of my former self - not that I've lost a lot of weight but I feel drained of physical energy and somewhat mentally flattened too. Not helped by having to wear a heart monitor for a week - 7 weeks after the previous cardiac event (you wait 2 weeks in England, incidentally).

I am now going to take some holidays which will hopefully reinvigorate me - "rejuvenate" might be a better word as I felt about 100 years old in the worst of the last few weeks, maybe 70 now, and look forward to lowering that to my real age (54) and not stop there but move on down to (let's not be too ambitious here) 35ish? I am optimistic and that will get me there.

There were no surprises when I got back to the office because I've been well briefed but it's good to report excellent continuing progress with substantial new services developing (more later on these) in spite of the continuing squeeze on money in the wider economy.

We've also had our best campaign ever - Lights! Camera! ACTION! - with the last of 22 local events tomorrow in Ammanford and culminating in a big celebration on World Mental Health Day on 10 October where we will return to the Senedd and present our report to Health Minister Mark Drakeford AM along with assembled dignitaries and user and carer activists. See the amazing variety of film blogs and other reportage on our flourishing Facebook platform here.

In due course I'll give you some privileged advance sight of some of what we have found out during the summer but for now a reminder of what the campaign has been about. We have been calling for...

• high quality Care and Treatment Plans for everyone receiving secondary mental health services

• full choice and control for service users on the content of Care and Treatment Plans

• prompt delivery of quality mental health services in response to those Plans and to the needs of people with a serious mental illness using primary care services

• further reform of services which increases service user and carer control over the choice and commissioning of services

• a longer-term move towards full equality in Welsh society for service users and carers including equal access to health and social care, housing, income, education, and employment.

The "Lights! Camera! ACTION! user and carer panel:

It's giving nothing away from our panel of users and carers' final report to say that the great thing about the campaign is how it has been about achieving these things (especially the first two) not just demanding them and making the argument for them.

Underpinning this has been the distribution of a staggering 40,000 of our Care and Treatment Planning Guide - that's in response to specific requests not sending them out unsolicited. And we are following this up with a brilliant training course for users and carers - again, more about this soon.

We may truly find ourselves entering a time when users and carers, as individuals and through their own organisation Hafal and our partners Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation, are leading the way in modernising - revolutionising even - mental health services - let's hope the politicians and professionals can keep up!


The Daily Telegraph has been publishing a series of letters arguing about where the remains of Richard III should be reburied. Much of this has been about the dispute between Leicester (near where he was poleaxed by Sir Rhys ap Thomas and subsequently buried at the time in what later became a parking area) and York (his home territory).

Other claimants include Westminster Abbey (where his nemesis Henry VII - that's Henry Tudor - and many other monarchs lie) and even the RCs have weighed in suggesting a tomb in Westminster Cathedral (home of English Catholicism) on the basis that he was a Catholic. Well, of course he was but proper Anglicans - not the wishy-washy ones around today - would say that the Church of England is the true inheritor of Richard's faith because the Reformation wasn't about a breakaway faction from Rome but a revolutionary continuation of England's ancient church when Rome had lost the plot.

You might wonder why any of them should want to celebrate and dignify this bad man who stole the throne and murdered the Princes in the Tower? Time is evidently a great healer. Perhaps in 500 years time they will all be squabbling about who can rebury Jimmy Savile with pomp and ceremony?

But some of us have longer memories and the Telegraph published this letter in today's paper...


Put him back in that car park – an appropriately humiliating resting place for a tyrannical infanticide. Thank heavens Henry Tudor won at Bosworth and ended the Middle Ages. We haven’t looked back.

Bill Walden-Jones

You can find it on-line too here along with other letters on the matter plus a contrary comment posted this morning...

The letter from Bill Walden-Jones is perhaps the most obtuse that I have read in a long time. I dare say there will be a riposte or three winging their way to this newspaper ere long.

...which I publish here in a spirit of providing the scrupulous balance which readers of this Blog have come to expect. But you could gently remonstrate with me if I ever write "ere long" other than satirically.

That car park: the cross marks where he was found (and should go back):

Henry VII's tomb in Westminster Abbey, a fitting memorial to this great Welsh king who founded the modern state:

And, lest we forget, here's Sir Rhys ap Thomas' more understated but dignified resting place . You can see him in St Peter's, Carmarthen, but you really need a step-ladder if you want to look the celebrated regicide in the eye: