Author Archives: mmckenz11

About mmckenz11

IT Officer for London School of Osteopathy and a Carer representative for Maudsley. As you can see, I have many interests shown off my blog. I hope to keep it updated with posts and more things to come soon.

Royal College of Nursing involvement day

Rcn-logoThanks for stopping by. Here is another blog post by unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. This blog post is about involvement, but I have added to this post my involvement with another organisation the Royal College of Nursing. Usually I spend most my time at carer or community centres running family and carer strategy forums. We aim to engage with hospital trusts, healthwatch, health commissioners and councils. Most forums look to increase education and engagement on mental health and the health services.

Still, education is not enough and there should be involvement and empowerment for services users and carers. Anyway, I would like to put a bit of background into the RCN otherwise known as Royal college of Nursing. I have been hinting about nursing and the Royal college of Nursing from my previous blog posts, although there are many other organisations I will post about soon.

The RCN represents nurses and nursing, promotes excellence in practice and shapes health policies. It is the biggest and well known union for nursing in the UK. They do not just represent nurses, but also midwives, Mental Health nurses, health care assistants, assistant practitioners, student nurses and trainee nursing associates.

They have around half a million members and are growing in number every day. The RCN also have a vast history in the field of nursing and have made major impacts in advocating for the field of nursing in the UK. The RCN also runs forums, consultations, conferences and allows members to get involved or even become an RCN Rep.

It has not been an easy time for nurses or the NHS at present, I am not going to get too political today, but never has there been a greater need for the RCN to vouch for nursing as pressure is brought to bear on nurses via lack of funds, bursaries and incentives to stay in the industry.


The RCN now wishes to expand its involvement and has been honest that in its prestigious history, it has lacked the drive to engage with its mental health patients, however many a large organisation can fall into this situation, although some are worse than others.

I have noticed that the RCN looks to take on engagement and involvement policies regarding its mental health programme, but to do this it must feed into its patient forum and also draw from Triangle of Care representatives. Of course no one is going to say such a drive is not without its challenges, but the sooner work begins on involvement, then the better the outcome.

Early this august I was invited to the first of many reference groups to collectively figure out inclusion and co-production within the RCN. I was joined by many patients and carers like myself. I did hear that reps from a mental health forum could not make it, but hope they are free next time.

The group was chaired and facilitated by both Catherine Gamble and Tim Coupland. Catherine is a RCN Mental health lead & Head of Nursing. She is also proactive in eduction practice & research at South West London and ST Georges NHS Trust. Tim Coupland is the RCN Programme Lead for Parity of Esteem and promotes many policies on mental wellness for all including nurses themselves.

I will not go into too much detail on how the group went, but I felt I was very looked after at the group and I felt everyone got their chance to have their say. We had many passionate and rich experiences from the members of the group, everyone truly deserved their place there. I was amazed that some members have had an impact promoting nursing and service user experience in other countries.

We each also asked what our involvement and interests lie, where mine was on the NHS Long term plan, mental health act and Suicide prevention due to my involvement at South London and Maudsley Suicide prevention group. I was excited to hear that the RCN have representatives engaging in the areas I have raised.


There is however a lot I can say regarding involvement, inclusion, engagement, co-design and co-production, but I think I will leave that to another blog post. There is much out there that carers like myself can get involved with. We never have enough carers getting involved at an exciting and challenging time in the health services.

You can find out more about the Royal College of Nursing from the link below

My summing up of the day is that there is a lot of work to do, but I feel that the RCN as a body is massive and offers many opportunities even if it is just to understand its core principles and the future of nursing.

Carers and GP Surgeries

me_edited-1Welcome back to another blog post by unpaid Mental Health carer Matthew Mckenzie. I often write blog posts that try to focus on carer issues, but sometimes I stray into areas of mental health, events and the field of psychology, sociology and maybe psychiatry. Of course I don’t stop there. I run carer engagement/strategy forums in south London and every so often I tend to update how they went on this site. Feel free to check out my Youtube channel or twitter channels where one channel focuses on the carer experience and the other channel on mental health developments.

Enough with the shameless advertising, this particular post is on a much needed subject and it is aimed at unpaid carers, however I hope GP surgeries get the time to read considering at the last Lambeth forum there was major discussion on the Lambeth Patient Participation group network. I have also arranged for the Lewisham PPG chair of South Lewisham Practice to present and update the members of Lewisham BAME Carers forum.

But what if you are a carer and are dithering on visiting your GP or doctor regarding who you care for, or even yourself?

Young couple gets counseled by a doctor

My first advice is not to dither or wait it out. Vising your GP can help make major decisions easier. There are very good reasons why it is so important to visit your GP and one of them is if you are feeling unwell. Most carers tend to visit their doctor due to raising issues on their ‘loved one’s’ health.

Still if you think the person you are looking after might recover, then it is still a good idea to check up with your GP. Some chance is better than none at all.

Whats the risk in putting it off?

I bet if I was to look for some stats, then it would be horrifying. Too many people across the country tend to delay or put off from visiting their GP, males can be the worst offenders and then things get too late to be detected. Carers, especially those caring for someone with a mental health need, should be more cautious. The reason usually is that if someone suffering mental illness, it can be very hard to let others know of physical health problems as well. Families and carers need that professional advice to help come to a decision to get access to other health services.

GP as Gatekeeper

It is well known that a doctor is the gatekeeper to other services. Without referral to other services then recovery or support is that much harder for the patient.

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Many might be still waiting for access to their mental health trust, while some might be trying to access psychological therapies, although it has been made self referral. GPs should know where to send patients or carers if they are in need of specialist support.

Being identified as carer

Without a doubt, carers risk too much without being identified. It should not have to be the situation of carers coping by themselves. If you are a carer certainly take the time to get registered as a carer at your GP surgery. It is difficult I know, because all GP practices are not alike. You might try to register with a larger more established GP practice, but it depends how far they are away from your area. If you are lucky, you might come across a GP practice that actually has its own carers group, it depends if they have resources. Plus I know some carers centers often works hard developing a carers relationship with the GP surgeries.

Leaflets and booklets

Even if not booking an appointment with your GP, it does not hurt to visit the GP practice and pick up a booklet about caring for others or about certain conditions. If some information is not there, then it does not hurt to request specific information. It is all about tooling oneself up with information to cope with illness.

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Carers should not be afraid to ask, if you can ask politely then there should no reason why a GP manager or receptionist can add the booklet or state where it can be accessed.

A chance to be more involved in care

If you are fortunate enough to book an appointment for the person you care for, then you have the added chance of being involved in their care. Do not let anyone put you off being involved even if confidentiality is used to block you. You can always put your concerns to the GP across and when things settle down, then try again on being involved. Still if you attend the GP with your relative or friend, then the GP usually wants to note down your details and might even ask if you are the carer.

With mental health patients, there might be need for education on what a carer is and why they are important to be involved, this can be more complicated with requested changes on the mental health law. Still, families and carers should be given the chance to be involved in a case by case method. There should be very good reasons why a patient does not want their family involved and sometimes even confidentiality should not be enough if their is a risk the patients life e.g. suicidal behaviour, lack of early intervention on bipolar, eating disorders, addictions and so on.

Connecting to more services and referral

The GP practice cannot do it all, which is why there are more specialist services out there, but unfortunately the GP can be the gatekeeper to these services. If you do not see your doctor, then access to such services e.g. mental health trust is difficult unless an incident happens in the community, which we all want to avoid. Plus families and carers accessing their GP should be referred to their carer’s center or a carers network.

Not all GP surgeries are proactive on this and carers centres should work on engaging their GP practices, as of now I observing the projects on how Lambeth and Lewisham plan to engage with GP practices. I have mentioned there should be a rating system on what is available for carers at GP surgeries, just as what NHS choices used to have.

A chance for health to be identified

As usual, carers are so busy caring that they do not often have time for themselves. Its not surprising that carers risk burn out, stress, depression and worse physical health symptoms. Usually the GPs or a good GP can pick this up when a carer decides to visit or form a relation with their GP surgery. Each time a carer visits their GP then there is a chance the doctor can assess the carer for health problems. A good GP will ask every now and again if the carer has had a check up.

Health journey recorded

GPs usually love to note things down. There is not a time when I see a GP not type something into a patient database. If you as a carer have trouble mapping out the events of the ‘cared for’ health journey, then the GP will do this for you. Especially on recording warning signs, missed appointments, medication issues and looking out for side effects.

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Your GP can also give the added benefit of inquiring with other health professionals worrying concerns, e.g. lack of engagement and missing notes or hospital reports. It is not uncommon for health systems to not talk to each other. GPs and families are the glue the try to hold these systems together.

We know some things, but not everything

Carers are not health professionals, try as hard as they might, we cannot take the risk of guessing what is going to happen with those we care for. We must seek expert advice from our doctors and if we are not sure, then speak to another doctor. Your health and your ‘cared for’ person’s health is too important for guessing games. We do not want to burden our doctors with our worries or concerns, but our doctors would be very upset if their was a missed opportunity to avoid a serious incident. GPs want to help and yes, they are under a lot of pressure, but if we can plan the appointments well enough then things should work out alright. Listen to your doctor and work with them.

GP surgeries have a lot to focus on with dealing with carers

I know poor doctors are under a lot of pressure as it is, not helped by government initiatives and working hours, but carers can take some pressure off GPs by being forthcoming about concerns they have. If families and carers leave things to the last moment, then the patient suffers and then the family can suffer and the health services will have more to deal with. Recovery would take longer for the patient, the risks are too great.

Despite confidentiality and all the red tape policies, GPs cannot do without the support of families and carers, it is part of the health system for relatives and friends to step in and support who they care for if they are unwell.

If a carer cannot get that support from the GP, then they might just give up trying to care and thus the patient will end up in the rotating door of hospital admittance.

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As a last point on all that I have mentioned above, a carer should look around the surgery to feedback their experiences. If forms are not around then try do this on the GP website. All feedback, information and even complaints should influence the GPs patient participation group on helping to develop the doctor’s surgery.

Reform of the Mental Health Act Debate

parliamentI was recently invited to observe an important debate regarding the Mental Health Act review. The debate was held at Westminster Hall over in Parliament on the 25th of July 2019.   It must be only the second time I have visited Parliament and if some of my forum members was not there, I would have easily got lost.

I have to thank the Lewisham carer members for attending the debate, it was a lot to ask of them. I wanted to also ask the Lambeth carer members, but that forum was on the same morning and I had to cut my chairing of the forum short. One of the members from the Southwark carers forum wanted to attend, but was held up and I know she is very involved in the mental health act review.

Before I continue, what is the mental health act?

The Mental Health Act 1983 is an Act of the Parliament and it covers how people who are brought into mental health treatment. The MHA also covers the care of mentally unwell persons. There are cases when a person can be detained, also known as sectioned, under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement.

It is important to remember that under the Mental Health Act (MHA), you can be detained if Mental Health professionals think your mental health puts you or others at risk, and you need to be treated in a safe environment.

When someone mentally unwell ends up being detained, they have certain rights.

– They have the right to appeal, and the right to get help from an independent advocate.
– To have someone explain what happens to you and why.
– The right to ask questions on why you are detained.
– The right to confidentiality, although this can be a tricky area.
– The right to be involved in your care plan.

There are also many other rights including equality, but these and other rights can be saved for another blog.

Why was there a debate on the mental health act?

The area many reasons for the debate on the mental health act, the most common being that the times have changed and the mental health act 1983 needs to reflect the changing environment. There are also problems with the mental health act, and I mean big problems.


The previous Prime Minister asked the Professor of Psychological Medicine at the IOPPN (Sir Simon Weesley) to review the Mental Health Act. There have been numerous challenging mental health cases that challenge the legislation of the mental health act. These cases are very tragic and have lead to many serious incidents and investigations. Some cases have had very long delayed investigations and many patients and their loved ones have suffered for it.

The government is under pressure to provide a mental health law that protects those who come under its use. It does not help that the NHS is under pressure, plus funding for mental health services is stretched. Many have lost faith in the mental health act and feel its high time for a review.

Again, the problems of the mental health act should come under another blog and I have plenty to say about it, but I want to focus more on the debate. I wish I actually brought a notebook with me, because the debate was around 3 hours long.

We managed to catch the opening of the debate by MP Neil Coyle who is also a carer himself. We were proud to see my local MP Janet Daby who is also a carer herself, but the other MPs who attended I could not see their names so well and I probably will ask who else attended, so I can feed back to the 4 carer forums.  Some of the things mentioned by other MPs will strike serious interest with some carer members.

I do not know how the MPs do it, but there were many important and passionate points raised over the 3 hours. Obviously families and carer issues were raised by several MPs, but I missed some points from a female MP who spoke at length on families and carers, because…well I ended up napping. Still I woke up when another MP spoke about crisis cafes and some carers might be glad to hear one MP debated heavily on the review of patients choosing who should provide support, although controversial there are situations when patients are at risk from their family, but then when someone is very ill, the risk is that they could cut off those who clearly are trying to protect the patient.

Meeting Of Support Group

Being a carer myself, I have seen more instances of families being cut off due to confidentiality, although I am not saying carers are all angels, but if the NHS builds a wall of silence when a serious incident occurs, who is there to pick up the pieces? We must remember the NHS is under a lot of strain and it cannot be solved by just funding alone.

Moving away from updating how the debate went, I want to focus on my thoughts about the debate. I feel Labour are in a sincere battle to hold the government to account on the mental health act, which is difficult because of the several issues.

  • Brexit is bound to cause loss of focus on the Mental Health Act.
  • There is a risk that the NHS itself will be used as a political ball game in trade agreements with the US.
  • Only few of the amendments from Sir Simon Weesley’s review of the MHA have been past.
  • There is a  fear that the bill will be watered down or not even work.

It is not just Labour’s role in holding the government to account on the mental health act, we all have a part to play and yes, that means you!

If you are a patient or carer. I often tell families and Mental health carers to seek out their MP and query what their MP is doing for carers in their area. Families and carers who do so much for their loved ones, should have some interest in forming that connection to those that fight hard for their rights.


There will be times when the MPs hands are tied and it probably is down to law, and this is one of the reasons carers need to be updated about the mental health act. I often tell carers to keep an eye on the Care Act 2014, I often moan about this act and how it is being dealt with in the community. There are so many laws and bills families and carers need to pay attention to, it is just not enough to read up on what to expect from health services.

Carers must learn to come together and speak up about their experiences, but of course they must be supported to do so. Unfortunately NHS culture has a long way to go to aid carer voices, but it does try and a lot of people in the NHS try very hard. It is not only the NHS, but social care, local authorities, carer charities and mental health charities that must aid in patient and carer identity.

I feel ashamed that I have not been more involved in observing parliament debates and have to thank Neil Coyle for given me the chance to view how MPs debate on such an important and personal matter. I am very impressed on what I have seen from the other MPs debating and I know the MPs are ready to hold the government to account. I look forward to the outcome of the debate and will try to get members interested on what the parties are doing.

Health and Well-being in the community


Welcome back to another blog post by unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. I am happy to have been able to write up some posts, despite being fairly busy. I want to put a thought in your head, I know in this society, we do not often have time to stop and reflect. Living in this fast paced life it is so important to stop and think ever now again.

The thought I want to put into your head is this. “Have you thought about where you live”? Is it in the city or suburbs? Maybe a village or town. Perhaps this is not even a deep thought when you step back and observe, but it does not end there. When you look around, what do you see? Are those around the area as busy as you are? Or perhaps do they seem to be more relaxed? Maybe they are letting the world go by.

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Now think about your health and wellbeing, are you lucky to have good health? It is not as easy as everyone thinks, because we are so busy, it is hard to find the time to eat well, exercise or even get a good nights sleep. We all know what happens if we cannot look after our health and wellbeing, but if you are curious then I will explain later.

Being Alive

If you are unfortunate enough not to had the time to stop and reflect then let me put another thought in your head. Do you know that you are alive? Seems weird doesn’t it. Of course you are alive otherwise you would not be reading this right now. Still, its amazing when you really think about it. Your heart is pumping blood around your body, you are able to see the words of the screen and now think about how you are breathing. Thats it!! you are reflecting on your health. It is one of philosophy’s ways of getting people to stop and think. Sometimes we are pressured into doing so much, that when the time has come, we begin to query where our life has gone. We are so focused in keeping up with the rat race (to mildly put it) that we have not stopped to marvel at our health.

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It does not end there though. So you realized you are alive, brilliant! but what about everyone else in your area or community? Are you wondering if they are thinking the same? About their health and wellbeing? Does it look like health and wellbeing is doing well in your area? Perhaps do to the town centre, what do you see? Does the area look healthy?

Being alive has its responsibilities

Being alive does have its responsibilities. We must try to be aware that every decision we take affects our health. To be a healthy person, you have to make healthy choices. Sometimes we have the information and power to follow up on those choices, but its not the same for everyone. Depending where you live, you might not get all the options to decide how healthy you will be. A community is only as healthy as much as it is supported to do so.

Still, because of community, we all have a part to play. If one person makes the choice for a healthy life, then others can learn and follow. Especially if they observe what we all have in common. Being part of a community means we have something in common, we often have to share things and express our identity. What one person does in the community usually affects the community some how. If the trend in the community focuses on healthy lifestyles then it will influence more in that community.

We all have some choice

Consider this though, choice is a powerful thing. Especially when it comes to our own health and wellbeing. Without the choice of our health, then the trade off can be immense. We could look into longevity, what causes the rates of decline in someones life or in society? Is it due to drinking causing a problem? Perhaps there is too many Junk food shops in the area causing health problems for those in the area? Maybe air pollution is so bad, that it is affecting the vulnerable and causing declining rates of health.

Some areas have some of the problems I have just mentioned, while other communities do not have these problems? Why is this? What made the difference? It cannot always be the situation of rich and poor. There must be something else that could be happening. We all have a choice into how our own health will be affected. We all have some choice about what happens to the community, but that choice is also a responsibility.

What happens if health and wellbeing is not at the center of community

It can happen to any community and usually does. It would not take long to find out case studies where health and wellbeing were not the focus of a community. As mentioned, decline rates of lifespan is a good example, if you curious its always possible to observe a community that is struggling with health. It is sad to see when people are unwell in streets, it is sad to see the community fragmenting away because they feel they have no choice about health. People living in such a community would then decide to leave the community, why stay?

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If health is not the focus of the community then it could lead to pressures at GP surgeries and hospitals as many people become unwell. More pressures on the health system can be a vicious circle as those discharged into the community cannot always get the support and end up back in hospital seeking treatment.

What happens when health and wellbeing works

It does not have to be that way. There are communities both rich and poor that do have health and wellbeing in mind. We have longer living standards. People making the right choices about their health and being well informed about those choices. You could travel to some areas and notice people looking after their health. Perhaps jogging in the park, playing outdoor sports both young and old.

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The community might be even supported to make health lifestyles by the institutions in that area. Does the GP practice reach out the the community and help in educating people about healthy choices? Are the commissioners making the right decisions and involving the community in those decisions? What about the council and Healthwatch? Are they making a difference? Maybe its the voluntary groups and charities setting the trend?

What are those who make the decisions, who influence the policies? The leaders and the drivers of health doing?  Are they responsible?

Who is responsible?

So who is responsible in providing a healthy community? Was it the organisations and bodies that I stated before? Without them, then it is hard to have health and wellbeing in the community, but not impossible. Sometimes we need to be active and be aware that choice is a powerful thing. We need to be aware that we are not alone and whatever we do, we affect the community in our actions and identity. It is also our responsibility for our health, but as a community we need to be supported. Those organisations cannot make decisions all by themselves, we need to be part of that it.  We need to be a part of that movement and set the trend.

How do those communities that have healthy outlook focus on health and wellbeing? What are those healthy communities doing right compared to communities that suffer from unhealthy lifestyles?

We have to take part

If you are part of the community, then you need to take part. We all want a community were regardless of gender, identity or race, we have long health lives. We all need to educate others on what makes us healthy and spread the knowledge into the community. We have to stop and reflect on our own health, which in turns challenges us to look after our health.

Being alive and health is wonderful, being allowed to make the choices of our health is powerful. Lets make this a healthy community



Important events of Nursing in the UK

43- reg nurse

Hello again.  I promised I would do a blog of timeline of Nursing in the UK.  Well, its not really a timeline, but a video of some important events in regards to Nursing in the UK.  Usually I do blog posts focusing on unpaid carers, but I felt it time to expand some blogs in which unpaid carers come into contact with.

I have been meaning to do this video blog for a while now, since carers have a lot to say about the field of nursing, probably due to the importance nurses have when the cared for ends up unwell.  However even carers can become unwell and every one else.  The great contribution nurses have given should be recognised and I am sure to do more blog posts to promote health and the NHS in future, although mainly from a carers perspective.

The video timeline is below, please enjoy.

Lewisham BME MH Carer/SU Forum July Update 2019

965946_fa217b70Welcome to the July 2019 update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health carer forum. The forum is one of the 4 carer strategy forums I run in the community and has a focus on BAME carers and sometimes Service user issues. As a reminder, the London borough of Lewisham is a diverse community, with many health and wellbeing challanges, but also some successes.

Although it is good we have carer support groups, there must be a physical platform where families and unpaid carers can come together for empowerment purposes. Carers should have a right to have a say about Health and well-being services. For the July Lewisham BAME Carers mental health forum, I had to run it earlier in the month due to a meeting I have at the end of the month.


Usually the forum would be packed, but a lot of members had sent apologies and this is one of the reasons I have blogged about the forum as a way to report back to members who can then feed into their networks.

Lewisham Police Mental Health Engagement

We were joined by Matthew Burns from the Metropolitan Police covering 3 London Boroughs. I believe there can be tension in the community with the police, especially with BAME patients who are not often happy to be brought in for treatment. It was a great opportunity for the community and the police to come together and learn from each other. I feel to have a police officer spend time to engage with us will lead to a great community focus.


Matt mentioned there were a lot of things the police need to work on, especially on looking to reduce section 136 and section 135 across several south London boroughs. The police are funding officers for the mental health wards where Bexley House from Oxleas MH Trust and Ladywell Unit from SLaM MH Trust were mentioned. The police are under a lot of pressure on dealing with patients in crisis out in the community and one of their aims is to build relationships with the community of Greenwich, Bexley and Lewisham.

The police mental health engagement drive is to know and understand the services and groups that can help with mental well-being. During the question and answer session, there was talk about mental health and diversity training, which Matt will take back. One other important note, was during the forum we were joined by Lewisham CCG.

Matt mentioned the police are trying very hard with patients in a crisis but are not fond of enforcing sections unless it is absolutely necessary. Matt stated that the Crisis Cafe in the borough of Bexley took so much pressure off the police and felt we need something similar in Lewisham. Matt is very aware of the Crisis Cafe (Habour Cafe) at Lewisham hospital, but feels despite the great work the cafe does, that its service is still restrictive and the model must be more like Bexley to take the pressure off. The police are looking for certain services that can help patients their families and themselves, especially deescalation services, rather than sections.  There should be a serious discussion on the crisis cafes and a few other things.

There was more talk about the lack community resources from the members, plus discussions about peer groups and appropriate adults. In the end I felt we had learned a lot from Matt and felt reassured that we were working to tackling mental health and BAME challenges in the borough.

NHS Long Term Plan

Next up for the July Lewisham BAME carers/SU forum. We had Lewisham CCG engagement presenting the NHS Long term plan. We were made aware that 6 CCGs (Bromley CCG, Lewisham CCG, Bexley CCG, Lambeth CCG, Southwark CCG and Greenwich CCG) are merging and the date is for 1st of April 2020. There was a discussion about the Lewisham alliance and how many borough alliances need to be brought forward. There was a discussion on how the Long term plan would affect GP practices and how GP surgeries are not aligned to Lewisham’s neighbourhood structure, members of the group were wondering about the impact.


There will be another Lewisham NHS long term plan event on Tuesday 16th of July at Laurence House. The event details are below.

Please also view the video on the NHS Long term plan

Going back to the forum, it was presented that the plan will develop Partnerships on integrating health, social care and providers within the 6 boroughs.

Plus it was presented on how a place based board in each of the 6 boroughs will work.

At these based boards, the members will consist of

A director – who is accountable to the local authority and CCG
Several GPs – working with other CCG GP members
Healthwatch Representation
A lay member as what we have with current CCG meetings
A Director of Public Health
Local authority officers

It was noted that the Carer forums will request engagement from those driving the NHS Long term plan and continued engagement from members of Placed boards.

Below is a timeline of part of the Long term Plan, but I am wondering if the timeline is flexible.

March 2019:

Governing Bodies agreed to develop proposals to create one south east London CCG as a step towards becoming an Integrated Care System (ICS).

March to May:

Inform stakeholder, staff and partners and get their views, which the carer forums are also interested in.

May to July:

Share and discuss our plans with patients and the public


Proposals to merge considered by Governing Bodies
Application made to merge the south east London CCGs

April 2020:

Establish a single CCG with placed based boards in each part of south east London

As the forum chair, I was pleased with the engagement from Lewisham CCG who will be back again at the Lewisham MH carers forum, which I hold at Carers Lewisham.  I am wondering if the other CCGs engage with families and carers the same way, although I have had good results with Lambeth CCG and Southwark CCG,


The last part of the forum was me updating the carer group on the funding initiatives for carers, which Lewisham council can bid for.  Some of the members gave their ideas to Lewisham CCG.

The next Lewisham BAME MH will probably run at Mind Greenwich, Lewisham and Bromely in August. I want to remind members of the BAME MH carer forum to update their networks.



National MH Nurses director forum – Building Resilience

D_BbtpdXYAEqkWdThanks for stopping by my blog-site. I thought to try and note down a lovely conference I was involved in as a guest speaker, but before I begin explaining more about the National directors nurses forum 2019. I want to pitch some ideas for any unpaid carer reading this blog post. Have you ever wondered what inspires team leaders on hospital wards? Have you wondered about how senior nurses inspire their staff? What makes nurses tick and how do they become more resilient in there roles?

As carers, I often try and get families and carers to become excited about the NHS. If not that, then try to inquire what the NHS is doing for you or what you can help the NHS in regards to promotion and co-production. We carers are unique in our roles and sometimes we stay silent and get on with it, but we should try use our voices to influence health services.

About the National MH Nurses director forum

I now want to talk about the forum which runs each year, I think the one for 2019 was the fourth of its kind. The NMHND forum aims to focus on leadership for mental health and learning disability nursing. It also wants to help spread best practice in mental health and learning disability nursing. It helps bring together those who work in the field of nursing to help raise the voices in regards to the pressures of nursing.

You can find out more about the National Mental Health Directors Forum (NMHND) off their site shown below.

Plus you can find out about Directors of Nursing for the UK through the forum site.

The 2019 National MH Nurses Directors forum was held at Warwick University. I was impressed by the conference center and the facilities, which also had a bar, large canteen and many conference rooms. I was told Warwick University had many conference centers and as a carer guest speaker, I felt I was really spoilt since I was provided a room at the center, the Dinner, Breakfast and lunch was fantastic.

The theme of the 2019 NMHND forum was on “Building Resilience”, which was fitting due to the pressures the NHS is under. Plus if the NHS is facing large challenges, it will filter down from leaders, to senior staff and front line staff and guess what? The patient and carer will be next in line. So I was glad that the National MH Nurses forum raised the theme, but it was not moaning and groaning, we sought to find answers, solutions and inspirations into building resiliance. We do not want nurses to struggle and leave the profession.

About the Forum Chair and Organisers

To open the event we had Mel Coombs who is the Director of Nursing at Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. I felt comfortable with her chairing style and that put me at ease as I felt welcomed. I was fascinated by her inspirational story into the role of Nursing and felt she was ever so dedicated in her field, but more on that later.

You can find out more about Cambridge and Peterborough NHS trust and their board of directors below.

I was also welcomed by Professor Hilary McCallion CBE and was shocked that she remembered me from when I spoke at South London and Maudsley carer conference almost 6 years ago.

If it was not for Hilary, I doubt I would be speaking at the Nurses forum that day and thank her for involving me at such a level. Prof Hilary is the Director of Nursing and Lead Nurses National forum, plus she is also a Trustee of Dementia UK and Bethlem Museum of the Mind, which I aim to get involved on Bethlem museum latest project soon, watch this space.

Last but certainly not least was Peter Hasler who I have known for a very long time and has inspired me to get involved at South London and Maudsley as a carer when I first started out learning more about the NHS. Peter has many roles, but he is the Forum Development Officer.

What happened throughout the day

After the welcome by the chair, I spoke about resilience as a Carer and the impact of mental health needs in the family. I spoke passionately and from the heart as I wish to lead by example when I want to raise the profile of families & carers in the NHS.


My talk consisted of the importance of Carers being empowered to network
My background and the Triangle of Care, plus the Health Service Journal.
Carers Navigating the NHS
The need for support from nurses and also resilience of carers.

I hope my message was inspirational and I felt those who work within the NHS have families and patients in mind. I want to inspire nurses to join and avoid leaving the profession, especially in the mental health field, which is very challenging.

We then had Ruth May who Chief Nurse of NHS England speaking about “Nursing Resilience in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan”. I am looking forward to hearing more on how she can help educate us on the NHS Long term plan. She answered many challenging questions from the audience and I noticed she has her work cut out, but her passion and drive shows that she will make great progress.


After the break Prof Hilary McCallion spoke about patient Observations on inpatient wards. As a carer, her talk was easy to understand and there was an interest in psychiatry as she provided many insights as to why patient observations in hospital mental health wards was so important.


I admired her knowledge and energy and I felt jealous when someone in the audience got her the questions correct and won a box of chocolates.

After the lecture the forum split up into 3 work-group sessions. The first session was presented by Learning disability nurses Simon Jones and Alison Williamson from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust on PBS in Forensic Services.

You can find out more about Oxford NHS Trust below

The second Session was on Stepping Up via Resilience through the CQC, which was presentation by Amanda Griffiths and Jane Fullard from the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust, which recently got an Outstanding ranking from the CQC on their mental health services.


This was the session I joined, probably due to the CQC paying even more attention to the Triangle of Care and being active on twitter, plus engaging with my Carer strategy forums. Amanda and Jane spent a lot of time education myself and other trusts in the room, which an impressive presentation. As a side note, I met nurse from SLaM based in Lewisham who spoke kindly about my presentation. I was glad we had more SLaM staff at the forum and hope they will also continue to engage with the carer forums.

You can find out more about Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust below

The third and final session was on How do mental health practitioners understand & experience resilience which was presented by Simon Wharne of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. I have nothing but admiration for Sussex staff and their CEO Sam Allen who has supported my work for quite while and they are heavy advocates of Triangle of Care. I will never forget Sussex involving me as a carer at their event a while ago.

You can find more about Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

After a tasty lunch at the conference center, I got the feeliing at ate too much and it made me sleepy, but I couldnt help myself as I networked with NHS staff from other trusts. There are going to be some exciting projects coming up soon.

The forum moved on to Resilience in your NHS Career Journey, were we got to hear personal stories from Mel Coombs, Christine Hutchinson who is the Nurse on Learning Disability at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Francis Adzinku who is the Service Delivery Director at Oxleas NHS Foundation trust.

You can find out more about Lancashire and Oxleas below.

I would like to give Special thanks to Warwick university and Radcliff conference center as I found the food, facilities and guest room excellent.

How I felt about the event.

I was delighted to be invited to participate in such an influencial nursing forum. If I did not blog on such a forum, it really would have been a missed opertunity. I felt the event was very well organised and kept to time.

I enjoyed the art work of the event done by Dr Pen Mendonca.  The art really summed up the day as words cannot always be the best representation of describing things.


I hope to meet up again with Prof Hilary McCallion again over at SLaM and most of all I was impressed by the caring attitude of the audience making me feel welcomed as a carer among friends.

I would like to mention Lookout for my next blog which will be a video timeline of UK nursing throughout the ages.

Thank you for reading.