What jumps out at me about the recent report by PNA (Psychiatric Nurses Association) to the Minister of Health is that it underlines a definite antagonism between providers and patients in the mental health services. It conveys graphically and in a rather stock way a strong underlying sense of fear and loathing of mental patients. Undoubtedly relations between patients and nurses can assume knife-edge proportions at times. And it is, as we all know from human experience, at times of heightened tension or drama that basic and fundamental motivation emerges clearly in the spotlight. I believe Mr. Kavanagh (general secretary of PNA) when he says nurses in their hundreds have been injured by patients. I am sure he, too, can remember the names of John Carthy and Anthony Burke.
Well any report worth its salt should try to figure out why things are the way they are. What is the cause of the problem?
The article I am providing a link to quotes the reasons given by PNA
"Shortages of nursing staff, retirements, reduced recruitment and reduced access to secure facilities."
Respectfully I suggest that these reasons may be genuine but they are not central to the real cause of the problem.
Speaking of a patient who broke his way into the roof space the article again quotes the report
"When nurses got him down he was threatening and assaultative."
He was a "him" and he was "threatening and assaultative." Questions suggest themselves to me. Are these remarks a fair representation of the patient? Does this patient count as a human being? Why did he break into the roof space in the first place? A one word answer, "mental illness," would, in my estimation, be a total cop-out. It begs too many fundamental questions.
Well the PNA thinks that mental health services are in "free-fall." If the system broke down completely many highly paid jobs would be at stake. But to be brutally honest about it not many patients or prospective patients would shed a tear for what is an unlovely system as it now stands