England’s prison officers and mental health nurses, the ‘canaries’ first to show effects of poisonous Tory policies? ‘Not on our watch’ in Scotland


© Prophecy Podcast

We’ve seen the all-too-clear signs of a humanitarian crisis in the prisons of England and Wales. Funding cuts, privatisation and constant governmental interference have produced a flood of officers fleeing violence, drug-abuse, disease and escalating mental health problems. It’s not happening in Scotland’s largely state-run prisons where they’ve had ‘clarity and consistency of expectation and a consistent approach to funding.’ See this for more:

Why are prison officers staying in post in Scotland as they flee the tide of violence and self-harm in England and Wales?

Prison officers are at the ‘coal face’ of society. Increases in poverty and greater inequality lead to increases in crime and in its intensity (see Spirit Level) and the first to feel the effects are groups such as prison officers. They’re like the canaries in the coal mines which died when poisonous gases were spreading and enabled the miners to escape.


One of the other most sensitive groups is mental health nurses. The same social and economic changes increase the scale and the intensity of their jobs too and it seems that, like the prison officers in England and Wales, they are fleeing in huge numbers. In the Guardian yesterday:

‘NHS mental health crisis worsens as 2,000 staff quit per month. Thousands of nurses, therapists and psychiatrists are quitting NHS mental health services, raising serious doubts about ministerial pledges to dramatically expand the workforce. A total of 23,686 mental health staff left the NHS between June 2017 and the end of May this year, health minister Jackie Doyle-Price told Labour MP Paula Sherriff last week. That is the equivalent of one in eight of the sector’s whole workforce. One in 10 mental health posts were unfilled at the end of June, Doyle-Price also told Sherriff, the shadow mental health minister. While 187,215 whole-time-equivalent staff work in the sector, the total should be 209,233.’


Two thousand per month! That would be like 200 per month in Scotland. What a headline that would be for our Nomedia, but we haven’t seen it.

Now, some say that the absence of evidence doesn’t mean the evidence of absence, so maybe they are leaving NHS Scotland in similar numbers but it’s just not being reported? You’re laughing. If that headline or anything like it was available to BBC Scotland, the Scotsman, the Herald or the Scottish Daily Mail, our Nomedia, written of course by Loyalist politicians, we’d know all about it. So, I’m going to walk out onto this limb confidently and say that Scotland’s mental health nurses are not fleeing in droves.

And, there’s evidence of a more visible form. In the Nursing Times of 5th April 2018@

‘Scotland is to train an additional 800 additional mental health professionals over the next five years as part of a new decade-long strategy, but it has been claimed more will need to be done to ensure services recruit nurses and other staff in the right numbers and places. The country’s new strategy for mental health, published last week, said the boost to the workforce would be felt in hospitals, GP surgeries, prisons and police stations…Unite’s mental health representative in Scotland, Jim McGinn, welcomed the government trying to address the inequality in treatment of mental health and physical health problems, and in particular the focus on prevention.’



From the NHS Scotland Information Services Division in December 2017, we see that staffing in Child and Adolescent Mental Health has been increasing steadily under the SNP administration.

There has been a 51.9% increase in the workforce in this area from 2006 and vacancy rates have been steady at between 3.9% and 5.3%. These are manageable rates which allow for healthy movement within the sector and opportunities for new recruitment.


Finally, from the BMJ on 29th May 2018:

‘The health service in Scotland will be required by law to ensure that safe staffing levels are in force wherever care is provided. The Scottish government has published the Health and Care (Staffing) Scotland Bill, which will place a legal requirement on NHS boards and care services to ensure that appropriate numbers of suitably trained staff are in place at all times. It follows the lead set in 2016 by Wales, which became the first country in Europe to introduce safe staffing levels for nurses. The Scottish bill applies to all NHS staff and will increase pressure on the rest of the UK.’


From Scottish canaries, not a cheep?


3 thoughts on “England’s prison officers and mental health nurses, the ‘canaries’ first to show effects of poisonous Tory policies? ‘Not on our watch’ in Scotland

  1. Alasdair Macdonald September 16, 2018 / 12:32 pm

    Re Prison Officers in England taking industrial action, the knee jerk response of all the media was to condemn the trade unions and hark back to ‘The Winter of Discontent’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Contrary September 16, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    It’s fascinating how divergent England and Scotland have become – I really would not have thought government policies could have such profound effects, not just on how well, or badly, and institution is run, but on culture too – I suppose it’s obvious really, but before devolution the best you could hope for in Scotland was to stay under the radar, and hope Westminster policy didn’t come your way. I hadn’t considered, until Thatcher maybe, how much our culture depends on the ruling classes.

    What the SNP has managed to achieve with the limited devolution powers is quite astonishing – yes, yes, not all their decisions have been great, but as a general rule their policies do aim for a fairer place to live, and have improved lives (or rather, not made them worse). Meanwhile Westminster has become more and more inhumane in their policies, the wealth distribution favouring elites is so extreme now it is embarrassing. Divergent.

    When you see things like this, you see England going down the pan, and their culture being eroded (in favour of being ‘great british’ – no wonder the English have an identity crisis), it is unpleasant to watch, and I feel some amount of sympathy. They have so little choice with the ‘two’ party system, so I can’t even wholly blame English voters for voting in unpleasant governments – let’s face it, your choice is between ‘establishment’ or ‘more establishment’. Also unpleasant to watch is the Nomedia continually trying to tar Scotland with the same inhumane brush, and not let on to England that things could actually be a lot better.

    Scotland could really do with being an independent country. Soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 September 17, 2018 / 6:11 am

      It does seem like we’re drifting apart gradually regardless.


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