What is the difference between asking an NHS Trust a question at its AGM vs. asking the same question at the GtiCP Conference?
Well – for a start: the GtiCP (DCP Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology) conference didn’t censor the question and actually put it in the chat. Second, they actually asked it. Third, they allowed the speaker to answer the question. But let’s back up just a minute.
Going back a few blogs to the reason why LXP Revolution came into being – local Lived Experience Professions staff had decided that after many years of being discriminated against, a group, anonymised (safe from retaliation) way of bringing awareness to this issue was needed.
The straw in a long line of issues to break the camel’s back was the replacement of Lived Experience Professional trainers paid at £300 a day with unpaid service users. The LXP trainers were part of an NHSE and MoJ nationally funded training, which was not costing the trust anything and worked on a co-produced, power-sharing model with clinical trainers. The in-house replacement was one that had been developed with unpaid service users and relied on unpaid SU facilitators to co-deliver with clinicians.
Aside from the moral and ethical issue, there was no financial sense behind doing doing this, as funding has recently been increased and national support invested. Instead, local LXP trainers found themselves without work, and local service users exploited for doing highly valuable work.
LXP Revolution sent a question to be read out to Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust’s Comms Team prior to the AGM, and CC’d in the Trust non-clinical Staff Governor:
PLEASE ENSURE THIS IS READ OUT PUBLICLY AT THE AGM AS WELL AS THE REQUESTED WRITTEN RESPONSE, WE ARE TRYING TO RAISE PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THIS ISSUE FOR SERVICE USER WORKERS. THANK YOU.
Question for inclusion at AGM:
During the last financial year, a coalition of Lived Experience Professionals who work at consultancy level approached the board to ask why people in Lived Experience Professional Trainer roles being paid at £300 a day were being replaced by unpaid service users. The trusts had also rejected the chance to apply for funding for a Band 7 post connected to the same stream of work. We have seen senior level work dismantled and people who work at this level made to feel unwelcome at Recovery meetings where service users in voluntary and entry level posts have been guided by people in non lived-experienced public engagement posts without knowing that existing specialist work has been eradicated, or even existed in the first place. This has led to extreme distress for people who are working in this field, facing losing their jobs, and being hospitalised in the process.
We have already asked you at the Board Meeting but would now like to ask you again at the AGM, why this has happened, and if you intend to make this right with the people who work beyond entry level in the Lived Experience Professions, who have now almost been removed from working within the Trust at this level?
On behalf of LXP Revolution, please provide a written response that we will post on our website at www.lxprevolution.co.uk
We sent the question at 10.28 and the AGM was due to start at 11, with questions towards the end of the meeting. People could add questions on the day and the questions sent ahead of time would be added. Questions not read out on the day we’re supposed to have a response within 48h. The question was not read out. After the meeting, we sent an email to ask why this was:
Hello BSMHFT Comms Team (CQC CC’d in for info)
We are extremely disappointed this question was not asked in the AGM public meeting. Could you let us know why that was? We’d sent it in ahead of time so that you would be able to prioritise it in the queue and asked for it to be read out at the meeting itself.
FAO CQC: Could we have this added to the complaint that we have lodged with the CQC, reference number: ENQ1-XXXXXXXXX
As part of our activism, we’ve also contacted the CQC about the issues we’ve experienced, so we decided to cc them into the email and add in the reference number to add to the complaint. It may have been worth cc-ing the CQC in on the first email, because we had a fairly swift response this time:
Thank you for your question, however it was received after our 9am deadline for submissions to the AGM.
Please be assured that we will come back to you with a written reply.
Sadly we hadn’t been aware of the deadline until it was too late. However, we do feel that if it was possible to add questions to the chat during the meeting, could this effort not have been made, especially since the non-staff Governor had been cc’d in? Either way, the Trust has never to date shown any respect towards us in terms of acknowledging that this has happened, explaining why, inviting us to be part of deciding how to make this right. Nothing. No accountability.
This lack of accountability has been reflected in the promised response within 48h. For a Trust so fastidious about time, those 48h ran out midday on Friday. So as of writing this today, Monday at noon – we are now 72h past their own deadline. It kind of puts our 90mins (albeit 30mins before the meeting to a mailbox that was being constantly checked at the time) into perspective, hmm?
So let’s go back to the GtiCP (Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology) Conference. Jacqui Dyer was speaking about Equality in services and staffing within mental health services. Apparently BSMHFT is one of the pilot sites focussing on inequality. After a few jaws were picked up off the floor, we asked about the issues of LXP workers in NHS being discriminated against and how this could be measured, giving BSMHFT’s example of replacing LXP Trainers with unpaid service users.
“That’s not ok. It shows a lack of understanding of lived experience working. It shows a lack of understanding of career pathways for lived experience workers, goes against recommendations at Health Education England.”
It is sad that whilst it appears that at a funding level – the money – the supposed level of power – we seem to have support – yet this support can so easily be subverted by NHS Trusts that have no accountability for diverting funds away from LXP workers. If they aren’t paying the exploited, unpaid service users… where the hell does this money actually end up?