Tag Archives: treatment’

Mentally ill woman’s treatment in Lismore hospital ‘deeply distressing’, says Greg Hunt

Appalling footage of a mentally ill woman stumbling around a NSW hospital, covered in faeces and falling over at least 25 times before she died of a brain injury, has shocked the public and politicians.

Footage released by the coroner shows the woman, mother-of-two Miriam Merten, locked in a seclusion room for more than five hours at the Lismore Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit on 1 June 2014.

A nurse unlocks Merten’s room the next morning, before she is left to stumble around the hallway naked, eventually collapsing in a corner before an emergency crash cart is rushed in by staff.

Merten died at Lismore base hospital on 3 June 2014.

A coronial inquest found she died of “traumatic and hypoxic brain injury caused by numerous falls and the self-beating of her head on various surfaces, the latter not done with the intention of taking her own life”.

A senior nurse at the facility was aware Merten had been sedated with psychotropic drugs and fallen on at least one occasion, but failed to take appropriate action, the coroner Jeff Linden found.

A second nurse was also involved.

“The lack of care and compassion showed to the deceased was monumentally disgraceful and appeared to emanate from an: ‘Oh, it’s just Miriam’s mentality,” Linden said in his inquest findings.

“To see a mentally ill person in 2014 at a public hospital in NSW treated in such an appalling manner is really beyond comprehension.

“While this appears not to be a system failure it is clearly a serious human failure.”

The New South Wales Labor party on Friday called for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into the state’s mental health facilities.

Opposition mental health spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk says the incident is a “Don Dale moment” for the NSW mental health system and demonstrates “abhorrent mistreatment and abuse”.

Mihailuk said the government should apologise to Merten’s family and conduct a full and transparent review.

The federal health minister Greg Hunt said the two nurses “are no longer in service”, and the state government had Canberra’s “full support for the strongest possible steps against what was completely unacceptable”.

“I have (seen the footage) … it is deeply distressing,” Mr Hunt said in Sydney on Friday.

The NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian echoed that view.

“We’ll do everything we can to make sure this never happens again,” she told reporters.

Using Ayahuasca for Anxiety And Depression Treatment

Ayahuasca has been brewed and consumed by tribes in the Amazon for centuries. They use it in healing ceremonies for its spiritual properties.

Lately, the psychedelic drink has attracted the attention of biometric scientists as possible treatment for depression and anxiety. Researchers in Brazil recently ran a study on Ayahuasca with some surprising results;

The Study

The study included just 6 volunteers with no placebo group, within a few hours the depression reduced and a sense of well-being and euphoria hit all 6, the effect was still present three weeks after the study ended. They are now conducting much larger studies, which they hope will support their findings.

Altering Your Mood and Brain

It’s possible that ayahuasca could treat depression and anxiety – the plant actually contains compounds that alter the concentration and mood-regulating neurotransmitter (serotonin) in the brain, which is exactly what commercial depressants do!

These compounds include the hallucinogen N, N-dimethyltryptamine, which binds to serotonin receptors, and also the chemicals harmine, tetrahydroharmine and harmaline, which are thought to inhibit an enzyme called monoamine oxidase A, which prevents the breakdown of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

It Has Treated Millions

Millions of people travel to camps where they are treated by a real Shaman. The people experience enlightenment and transformation after taking it. Let’s not get this wrong here, ayahuasca is 100% natural and is grown in the Amazon of Central and South America. Take the Ayahuasca retreat in Iquitos for example; the prevalence of rainforest in the surrounding regions and the availability of facilities throughout the year enhance the healing process.

The vine enables a unique experience into the unknown. Some people return to their childhood memories while others see their future. Although Ayahuasca makes one hallucinate, it is not a drug. Rather, it’s a medicinal plant.

Three Reasons Why People Take It:

  1. Emotional Healing: Ayahuasca is a kind of medicine which heals the body and mind. When you drink the medicine, past emotions come up. Your hidden traumatic emotions will pop to the surface and then you get to face it head on. You will be able to resolve it as your emotional burden lessons, and so does your karma.

  2. Spiritual Advancement: Get out all of the questions that you have had on your mind and go through them one by one – such as “Is there a god?” I am not saying you will get all of the answers. However, you will get a better grip on reality and what is real.

  3. Finding Your Purpose: Got anything you always wanted to do but you felt too scared to do it? Whatever your purpose is, it will become a lot more clearly and you will be able to do what you have always wanted to.

More Resources:

A Personal Story – A personal success story of someone taking Ayahuasca retreat in Iquitos.

A Scientific Study– A study on Ayahuasca.

SociallyActive
I have been interested in health from such an early age, this threw me into the blogging world. Lately I have been looking up the herbal and 100% natural drug of Ayahuasca, those who wish to take it can experience a wide variety of visions. This helps depression and anxiety in the most natural form, for more information please visit the Shama Retreat

Hunt broke law by axing NHS 18-week treatment target, says Labour

Jeremy Hunt has broken the law by not forcing the NHS to ensure that patients receive hospital treatment within the stated maximum of 18 weeks, according to legal advice obtained by Labour.

The counsel’s opinion says the health secretary is acting illegally by not obliging NHS England to compel hospitals to treat the required 92% of patients within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP.

The advice, by James Goudie QC, is potentially embarrassing for Hunt as it draws attention to the NHS’s increasingly poor performance against key waiting time targets for A&E care, cancer treatment and ambulances’ responses to 999 calls, as well as the referral to treatment (RTT) requirement. It specifies that at least 92% of all those waiting for non-urgent hospital treatment, such as hip or knee replacement or cataract removals, should wait no more than 18 weeks.

Controversy erupted last month when Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, announced that he was relaxing the 18-week target so that under-pressure hospitals could focus on more important priorities, in a move critics said meant it was being scrapped. The Royal College of Surgeons accused the NHS of “waving the white flag” on the target and condemning patients already in pain to further suffering due to the extended delays they would now face to get surgery.

Labour peers commissioned the 12-page opinion from Goudie, a barrister specialising in public law and employment law at 11 King’s Bench Walk chambers in London. It says: “I am asked whether the SoS [secretary of state] acted unlawfully by failing to include the 92% RTT target in the mandate to NHS England for 2017-18. My answer is: ‘Yes’.”

It goes on to explain: “This is because the 2012 Regulations and the NHS constitution have the effect that this must be included. The annual mandate cannot lawfully be used to circumvent or undermine by omission the absolute statutory and sub-statutory requirements.”

The mandate is the detailed annual document in which the Department of Health spells out precisely what key priorities it wants NHS England to fulfil in the coming year.

Labour claimed Goudie’s advice showed the government’s NHS plans were “in total chaos”. The party planned to use a motion in the House of Lords on Thursday to try to force ministers to explain what it says is a fundamental breach of patients’ rights under the NHS constitution. Philip Hunt [no relation], Labour’s health spokesman in the Lords, will also challenge ministers to publish the legal advice they have taken surrounding the 18-week target.

“Tory plans for the NHS are in total chaos. Legal advice commissioned by Labour confirms that the government have acted unlawfully in failing to deliver the 18-week treatment target for patients,” said Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary.

“Almost 4 million people are now on waiting lists because of the neglect and underfunding of this Conservative government and now this year’s NHS mandate is at risk of legal challenge. The government are failing to deliver the standards of care to which NHS patients are legally entitled,” he added.

Labour is now considering what its next move should be in light of Goudie’s advice, including whether it should seek a judicial review to challenge the legality of Jeremy Hunt’s actions over the 18-week target. No decision has yet been made on possible legal avenues it may pursue.

But Hunt last night insisted that he had done nothing wrong and that he had ordered NHS England to start hitting the 92% target again, which hospitals have missed every month since March last year at a time when the total number of patients awaiting treatment has crept up to almost 4 million.

“We do not believe there is a case to answer,” a Conservative spokesman said.

“Indeed, we wholeheartedly reject any suggestion that the government is not committed to the 18-week target, and as the mandate itself clearly states, we are specifically requiring the NHS to return to delivering that standard,” he added. The NHS is now carrying out record numbers of operations and treating 5,000 more people a day than in 2010, the spokesman added.

Hospitals breached the 92% target for the first time in December 2015 since its introduction in 2010. After meeting it again in the next two months, performance slipped to 91.5% last March and has stayed below 92% since. It hit an all-time low of 89.7% last December. In February, a total of 367,094 patients waiting for treatment had already waited for more than 18 weeks, according to the most recent NHS data.

Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation thinktank, said: “The failure of the NHS to treat patients within the 18-week target is a symptom of wider pressures on the system. NHS hospitals are running at or near capacity to cope with growing demand for emergency care, and this limits their ability to perform planned procedures. If funding pressures continue to increase, the NHS will increasingly be forced to make trade-offs to live within its means.

“The government must ensure there are adequate levels of investment to maintain good standards of care in every part of the health and care system.”

NHS England to expand provision of ‘gamechanging’ stroke treatment

Thousands of stroke patients will be saved from lifelong disability after NHS England decided to invest millions of pounds in a new treatment hailed as a “gamechanger”.

About 8,000 people a year who have a stroke will benefit from a massive expansion in the number of hospitals offering mechanical thrombectomy.

Currently only a few hundred patients a year receive the treatment and just a handful of hospitals in England offer it, despite its proved effectiveness. Stroke experts say the procedure can produce remarkable results, with patients who would otherwise have ended up in a wheelchair instead able to walk out of hospital within 48 hours of having it.

“Thrombectomy is a real gamechanger which can save lives and reduce the chances of someone being severely disabled after a stroke,” said Juliet Bouverie, the chief executive of the Stroke Association.

“This decision by NHS England could give thousands of critically ill stroke patients an increased chance of making a better recovery. It could also mean more stroke survivors living independently in their own homes, returning to work and taking control of their lives again as a result,” she added.

A thrombectomy is used to remove a blood clot in someone’s brain which has not dissolved despite the patient receiving clot-busting thrombolytic drugs. It involves a doctor putting a thin tube into a patient’s artery, usually through their groin, and then feeding it up through their body to where the clot is in their brain. Once there, a wire mesh tube called a stent – usually used in heart or vascular surgery – on the top of the tube is wrapped around the clot and it is then pulled out by a doctor called an interventional neuroradiologist.

Doing that restores normal blood flow to the brain and greatly reduces damage to brain tissue, which is what causes patients to suffer long-term, often serious damage to their physical and mental functions. Patients are either sedated or under general anaesthetic during the procedure, which must be carried out within six hours of the stroke occurring.

“This major national upgrade to stroke services puts the NHS at the leading edge of stroke care internationally,” said Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive. “It’s another practical example of the NHS quietly expanding innovative modern care that will really benefit patients, but which tends to be invisible in the public debate about the NHS.”

Stevens is keen that the NHS follows the lead of Germany and France, which undertake 7,500 and 3,500 thrombectomies a year respectively. While the procedure can help 10% of the 90,000 people a year in the UK who are admitted to hospital following a stroke, fewer than 600 patients a year in England have one.

Although the procedure costs about £12,000 to perform, the big savings in medical and social care for patients who would otherwise have been left seriously disabled have convinced NHS England that it represents value for money.

St George’s in London is the only hospital in the UK to offer thrombectomy around the clock every day of the week. NHS England hope the massive expansion will lead to 24 NHS trusts which are centres of excellence in neuroscience operating on the same 24/7 basis as the NHS becomes more of a seven-day service.

Dr Jeremy Madigan, a consultant diagnostic and interventional neuroradiologist at St George’s, said: “Our patients are benefiting from the thrombectomy service we provide, with an 80-90% chance of opening up blocked vessels via this technique, compared to 30% with traditional clot-busting drugs.

“Providing a thrombectomy service at all times of day, as we do at St George’s, radically improves the range and mix of interventions available to us as clinicians.”

However, Bouverie said that creating 24 centres to perform the procedure would compel the NHS to centralise acute stroke services in fewer places, which would likely prove controversial.

It would also require a big increase in the number of interventional neuroradiologists the NHS employs – currently about 90 – especially if the service is to operate around the clock.

A puke bucket and an ancient drug: is ayahuasca the future of PTSD treatment?

I’m sitting on a blue plastic, wipe-down mattress with my back to a wooden pillar. Within arm’s reach on the floor is a small torch to light my way to the toilet during the night, on the other side an orange plastic bucket to puke into. As the light fades my four companions, each with his or her own plastic mattress and bucket, disappear from view while on every side the barks, croaks, growls and cries of jungle life grow louder. Twenty minutes ago I gulped down a draught of the bitter psychedelic brew known as ayahuasca and I have convinced myself that I can feel its hot, unstoppable progress through my body, from my seething guts into my veins and onwards to my brain.

This is hardly a recreational drug experience, what with the nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, not to mention the possibility a truly terrifying trip, yet thousands now beat a path to Peru, Ecuador and Brazil every year to drink ayahuasca. Some are just looking for an exotic thrill, but others hope for enlightenment and healing from this ancient plant medicine. In the past few years, many of them have been war veterans desperate to escape the nightmares of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Combat-related PTSD is notoriously difficult to treat and in theory ayahuasca can work as a form of drug-assisted exposure therapy. When traumatised people repeatedly avoid fear-inducing situations this only serves to maintain and reinforce the deeply ingrained conditioning that underlies their illness. The idea is that by dredging up traumatic memories and exposing them to conscious awareness within a safe, controlled environment, ayahuasca allows the brain to reassess and extinguish conditioned fear responses.

Classic psychedelics such as DMT – an active component of ayahuasca – break the control that the prefrontal cortex normally holds over more primitive parts of the brain, triggering vivid hallucinatory memories and emotions. “That lets us go to places in our psyche or internal landscape that we wouldn’t normally allow ourselves to go,” says Gerald Thomas, who researches addiction at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. “In psychotherapy, it’s how we reconcile past events that have traumatised us.”

Thomas has conducted preliminary research suggesting that ayahuasca can reduce dependence on addictive drugs. Part of the explanation may be that it helps ease the pain of traumatic memories that people sometimes “self-medicate” with substances such as alcohol, tobacco and cocaine.

To date, any evidence that ayahuasca can do the same for people with PTSD has been anecdotal. But an ambitious study now under way at the Temple of the Way of Light in the Peruvian Amazon is monitoring its long-term effects on psychological wellbeing and may provide some answers. The research is a collaboration with the International Center for Ethnobotanical Research and Service in Spain and the Beckley Foundation in the UK. Around 580 retreat participants a year – among them combat veterans suffering from PTSD – are being recruited, making it the largest psychedelic study of its kind ever undertaken.

But the study highlights a problem. The Temple of the Way of Light rigorously screens applicants for any history of psychosis or mania, which can be triggered by ayahuasca. Adverse effects like these are rare, says bookings manager Karin Gingras, but the temple is in a remote jungle location far from the nearest hospital. “We have seen how difficult it can be to recover from psychosis for some of these folks and are very aware that we are not equipped with the professional psychological staff to safely support these individuals.”

Most ayahuasca retreat centres in Peru do not go to such lengths to screen applicants, and the cheaper ones advertised on the streets of tourist hotspots such as Iquitos and Cusco will take anyone’s money, no questions asked. They provide little or no psychological support.

“People should pursue using ayahuasca with great care and do thorough research to find reputable retreat centres,” advises Alli Feduccia of MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. “Counselling and support during and after ayahuasca retreats are necessary to integrate the intense experiences that can emerge,” she says. “People have been traumatised by ayahuasca experiences because this very needed support is lacking.”

Then there’s the risk of interactions with prescription drugs. In addition to DMT, ayahuasca contains potent monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which block an enzyme that usually breaks down neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin. As a result, taking ayahuasca while on an SSRI or MAOI antidepressant can cause potentially fatal “serotonin syndrome”. Under normal circumstances the enzyme also breaks down tyramine – found in pork, pickles, smoked and fermented foods, chocolate and alcoholic drinks – and excess tyramine can trigger a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

If you’ve got PTSD, it’s unlikely your doctor will send you on an ayahuasca retreat any time soon (you are more likely to be offered psychotherapy under the influence of MDMA). In the US, where DMT is outlawed as a schedule one drug, Feduccia says MAPS has faced major obstacles in its efforts to gain approval for a clinical trial of ayahuasca for PTSD. A perverse effect of the lack of research may be to drive desperate patients into the arms of dubious retreat centres in South America that will fail to screen them adequately, offer advice on potentially dangerous dietary and drug interactions, or provide the necessary psychological support.

My own encounter with ayahuasca was a happy one. I felt nauseous but didn’t vomit. I witnessed no earth-shattering visions, though I did experience perceptual distortions and a temporarily enhanced sense of meaning and beauty. The only long-term effect on my physical and psychological wellbeing appeared to be a persistent bout diarrhoea that lasted several days. Retreats like those at the Temple of the Way of Light usually involve a series of ceremonies over several days, but I attended just this one – at another reputable retreat centre near Iquitos – and requested a very low dose of the medicine. I have a family history of bipolar disorder, which can involve psychosis, so even though I don’t have the condition myself I was unwilling to take a major gamble with my mental health.

This article was edited on 6 April 2017 to make it clear that the author did not participate in a ceremony at the Temple of the Way of Light.

James Kingsland is the author of Siddhartha’s Brain: Unlocking the Ancient Science of Englightenment

Yeast Infection: Description, Causes and Treatment

What is Yeast Infection?

This kind of infection is most common among women. However, many remain ignorant or unaware of this medical problem. It is important to know the symptoms, dangers, and related conditions of yeast infection to be able to treat it early on. It is also necessary to determine the various causes of this disease to be able to avoid it before it even happens. Finally, it will be most helpful for any female person if she is also knowledgeable of the several possible treatments for yeast infection to be able to curtail it immediately.

Not many women are familiar with the term “yeast infection”. However, more women are probably aware of or have experienced previously the symptoms of this condition. The top three signs of having yeast infection are itching, burning and pain, and discharge (1). Itching of any part of the skin or body is usually caused by an infestation of foreign organisms such as fungi or bacteria in a particular area of the body. In the case of yeast infection, the affected portion is the vaginal part and the surrounding areas. The infection can cause intense itching that rashes or redness usually develop secondary to scratching. Another indication is a burning or painful sensation in that area especially when urinating. The skin in a woman’s vaginal part may already contain sores due to frequent scratching that when placed in contact with the acidity of urine may cause pain or a burning sensation. This feeling may be similar to that which is experienced when having urinary tract infection, however, they occur in different areas of the body. Lastly, some women report of having discharges that are usually described as odorless, white, and cheese-like. At other instances, a starch-like odor is said to be observed from the discharges.

Yeast infection itself is not considered as highly dangerous, however, it can be very irritating and disturbing especially among women who are already preoccupied with other responsibilities or tasks. On the other hand, like most infections, it is highly transferable to other individuals including the opposite sex. Certain conditions of the body may make it easier for a person to acquire this disease such as diabetes and use of antibiotics.

What causes Yeast Infection?

The scientific term for yeast infection is Candidiasis (2). This was derived from the yeast organism or fungus-like Candida that causes this condition. Fungus thrives in dark and moist areas such as the vaginal area of women. Certain health conditions such as pregnancy and diabetes make people, especially women, more prone to acquiring yeast infection. Pregnancy causes a change in the metabolic balance and vaginal acidity of women which is more favorable to fungus growth. Fungus are also known to thrive among individuals with high sugar levels such as in the case of people with diabetes and those with defects in sugar metabolism.

What are the treatments for Yeast Infection?

Medical doctors prescribe various oral medications such as Diflucan or fluconazole and topical treatments to cure yeast infection. But from experience, this suggestion never works as it does not address the cause of the infection. Additionally, the yeast becomes resistant to those drugs over time making the problem even worst (3). The key is to boost your immune system to handle the yeast overgrowth. One the ways we do it in the office is helping your body to get rid of the mercury present in the GI tract (4). Candida thrive in an environment consisting of sugar and toxins like mercury. Addressing these two points is critical to eliminate Candida once and for all. Too often, I see people coming in and tell me that they have tried everything to kill Candida in their body, but they never address the source of toxicity. In addition, when we kill Candida, mercury is being release in the blood stream, causing what people claim as being “die off”. Unfortunately, this newly released mercury is not being eliminated and accumulated in other parts of the body causing more issues. As you can see, doing a Candida cleanse is not that simple. Several factors must be addressed at the same for an efficient and complete elimination of Candida. This is performed by using herbs like garlic, pau d’arco, calendula, among others.

  1. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-23/5-signs-youre-suffering-from-candida-overgrowth-and-what-you-can-do-about-it
  2. https://www.thecandidadiet.com/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/antifungal-resistance.html
  4. http://candidaspecialists.com/heavy-metal-toxicity-candida-overgrowth-yeast-infections/
Dr. Serge Gregoire
Dr. Serge is a clinical nutritionist. He owns a doctorate degree in nutrition from McGill University in Canada. In addition, he completed a 7-year postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School in Massachusetts where he studied the impact of fat as it relates to heart disease.

He has authored a book on this topic that is awaiting publication with Edition Berger publishers in Canada. He holds an advance certification in Nutrition Response Testing (SM) from Ulan Nutritional Systems in Florida and he is a certified herbalist through the Australian College of Phytotherapy.

His personalized nutritional programs allow to help individuals with a wide variety of health concerns such as hormonal imbalance, digestive issues, heart-related conditions, detoxes/cleanses, weight loss, fatigue, migraines, allergies, among others.

Brexit and the treatment of children with cancer | Letters

The warning that children with cancer risk missing out on drug trials (Report, 9 March) highlights an issue that has been largely overlooked in the Brexit debate. I led work on the EU clinical trials regulation, which will come into force in 2018. By harmonising EU law and creating a single application portal, this will make it easier to carry out clinical trials in more than one country. Cross-border trials are particularly important for paediatric cancers because there are usually not enough cases in one country to make a trial viable. Once outside the EU, it will be harder for UK patients to participate in these trials.

Although cancer in children is relatively rare, more than 1,700 children are diagnosed and 257 die from cancer every year in the UK. Due to the lack of treatments available, a clinical trial may represent the only chance of survival for a child with cancer. Children are already missing out on access to innovative treatments because drug companies are reluctant to carry out paediatric testing due to the small anticipated profit margins; if children in the UK no longer have access to EU trials, this situation could become much worse. Withdrawing from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) could further impact the time it takes for new medicines to be available to patients in the UK.

Theresa May seems determined to cut all ties with the EU, even where there are obvious advantages from continued cooperation. It would certainly benefit patients in the UK, and children with cancer in particular, if we seek to remain part of the EMA and the EU clinical trials framework.
Dame Glenis Willmott MEP
Labour’s European parliament spokesperson on health

Drug addiction isn’t going away so why are treatment centres being slashed?

You may not know that your local authority is responsible for funding drug and alcohol treatment. And unless you, a friend or family member have been personally touched by addiction you might not think that these services should be a funding priority for cash-strapped councils.


We’re left to manage a host of intractable problems that we’re not qualified or able to deal with.

I work in a community drug and alcohol treatment centre and my job is to support people to overcome their addiction and support their recovery. When I arrive at work in the morning there is usually a queue of people outside wanting to get help.

They’re vulnerable people with complex needs and demand for our support is increasing. Yet we’ve seen our funding slashed by 42% since 2010. The situation is the same across the country.

I see fewer heroin users nowadays but far more people dependent on alcohol and people getting into problems with so-called party drugs such as methamphetamine and ketamine. The heroin users might be fewer in number, but they require more of our attention as they get older and sicker. They often have hepatitis C and smoke tobacco and succumb to liver and lung diseases as a consequence.

Addiction sits at the centre of a cluster of physical, psychological and social difficulties. Our service users need help and support in all these domains if they are to stand a chance of recovery. Our caseloads have got bigger because we have had to cut posts and as pressures elsewhere in the health and social care system builds, the complexity of the problems we are presented with has increased, too.

Even when there are clear mental health problems, mental health services don’t want to treat people who also use drugs or drink, so they send them to us. The same applies to the general hospitals – with access to liver treatments being rationed. I know they are also under pressure, with ever-expanding waiting lists, but as a consequence we are left to manage a host of intractable problems that we are not qualified or able to deal with.

Some of our clients lead chaotic lives and come to us in desperation with a whole host of difficulties that go far beyond addiction. They might be embroiled in the criminal justice system and need advice, they might have housing problems or be struggling with trauma; it is not uncommon for me to treat clients who used to be in care and have survived institutional abuse. We used to have psychologists in our team who could provide treatment for complex trauma related to sexual abuse but their posts were cut last year.

I have two clients who are so physically unwell that the local residential detox provider does not think they can safely manage them. The NHS-run unit we used to refer to because it had the necessary medical cover has been closed due to the cuts. If they don’t die beforehand, the only hope for my clients is that they will get a detox if they are admitted in an emergency with a physical health crisis to a general hospital.

With diminished resources we have had to prioritise treatments such as opiate substitute medications and needle exchange, which we know can keep people alive. But how are these actually helping people overcome their addiction?

Addictions services are often retendered with contracts being awarded to the cheapest bidder. I work with people who have had their service retendered and employer changed multiple times. This is a massively stressful process and I have friends who have left the sector feeling demoralised and burnt out.

We are judged on figures like the number of people leaving treatment drug-free, and treatment centres know that this can be used against them. The worst-kept secret in our sector is the gaming of this so-called “performance data”.

If a client drops out of treatment it will have a negative impact on our figures. One way to manage this is not to start the most chaotic people in treatment in the first place. People aren’t refused treatment but they are asked to jump through hoops before structured treatment is commenced.

A homeless, mentally unwell heroin user is going to find it difficult to attend a “treatment induction group”, but the consequence is that they never start on the medication that might actually help them.

Some facts are impossible to hide: drug-related deaths are increasing and new drugs and associated problems are causing problems in prisons and emergency departments. Even the shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, whose father was an alcoholic, has called for greater recognition of the damage done by excessive drinking.

Drug and alcohol use and addiction isn’t going to go away. I try to do the best I can for the people I work with. I try to close my ears to the negative and stigmatising language. Instead I keep my ears open to my clients and I try to find a connection and build a relationship that may help them in their recovery.

This series aims to give a voice to the staff behind the public services that are hit by mounting cuts and rising demand, and so often denigrated by the press, politicians and public. If you would like to write an article for the series, contact kirstie.brewer@theguardian.com

Talk to us on Twitter via @Guardianpublic and sign up for your free weekly Guardian Public Leaders newsletter with news and analysis sent direct to you every Thursday.

Multiple sclerosis treatment is debunked by researchers in Canada

A surgical treatment pioneered in Europe that was sought out by thousands of desperate people with multiple sclerosis has been categorically debunked by Canadian researchers.

“Liberation therapy” to widen narrowed veins from the brain and spinal cord was devised by the Italian surgeon Dr Paolo Zamboni, who suggested in 2009 that the neurological disease could be triggered by a build-up of iron where the blood did not flow freely.

Zamboni called this condition chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI or CCVI) and widened the veins of people with MS using stents. Many in the medical community were sceptical, and his trials of the technique did not compare people given the procedure with those who were not. But other doctors’ doubts did not stop people with MS from joining the waiting list.

In 2013, a paper was published in the Lancet medical journal by Dr Anthony Traboulsee from the University of British Columbia and colleagues, funded by the MS Society of Canada, which found that Zamboni’s hypothesis was fundamentally flawed. The researchers’ study showed that narrowing of the veins that run from the brain to the heart was as common in people without MS as in those with the condition.

The same team has now carried out a more ambitious study. They performed the vein-widening venoplasty procedure on 49 people, inserting a catheter and inflating their veins with a small balloon and a “sham” operation on 55 others, who just had the catheter insertion. Neither the patients nor the researchers knew which people had undergone which operation.

One year later, assessments involving brain imaging and doctors’ and patients’ own assessment of their symptoms, showed that there was no difference between the disease progression of the two groups.

“We hope these findings, coming from a carefully controlled, ‘gold standard’ study, will persuade people with MS not to pursue liberation therapy, which is an invasive procedure that carries the risk of complications, as well as significant financial cost,” said Traboulsee, a UBC associate professor of neurology.

“Fortunately, there are a range of drug treatments for MS that have been proven, through rigorous studies, to be safe and effective at slowing the disease progression.”

In spite of the earlier Lancet paper, people are still seeking liberation therapy, Traboulsee said. “It is less popular. But there is still an advocacy group that has a conference once a year with guest speakers such as Dr Zamboni,” he said. “There are still researchers dedicated to the topic, not just Dr Zamboni. It has been proposed as important for treatment of Ménière’s [disease] and for dementia diseases.”

Prisoners with serious mental health problems face urgent treatment delays

Almost 75% of prisoners are facing delays in being transferred to NHS hospitals to receive urgent treatment for serious mental health problems.

Prisoners in England who need to spend time as an inpatient in a mental health unit are meant to be taken there within 14 days of doctors admitting them. But new official figures show that barely one in four of the prisoners who received such care last year were transferred within the supposed maximum two weeks.

Labour MP Luciana Berger, who obtained the figures through a parliamentary question, warned that the already fragile mental health of prisoners needing hospital care could be badly affected by them being denied speedy care.

“In the outside world we would never expect someone to wait as long as two weeks to get appropriate care, and we know that prisoners are at much higher risk,” she said. “With every day that goes by their condition is likely to worsen, so the delay will have a hugely detrimental impact on their mental health.”

Figures released by the Department of Health show that 412 prisoners were transferred to hospital from jails in England within 14 days during 2015-16, or 26.5% of the total. However, far more – 1,141 (73.5%) – had to endure delays of longer than that, health minister Nicola Blackwood confirmed.

“This ubiquitous failure would never be tolerated in the outside world,”, Berger will tell MPs on Wednesday, in a Commons debate she has secured on suicide and self-harm in English jails.

Berger, the president of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health, said she did not know if there was a causal link between the delays and the record number of suicides – 119 – that occurred in English prisons during 2016. “It is likely to be a contributing factor, but it is just another issue, among many, which paints a very bleak picture of the inadequate support provided to people experiencing mental illness in our prisons,” she said.

2016 also saw a record number of incidents of self-harm in jail – 37,784 in all, up from 7,000 on the previous year.

In community settings, detentions under the Mental Health Act often take just a few hours. But the process takes longer with prisoners. Those who are due to be transferred wait temporarily in their jail’s hospital wing but, Berger added, those units are not equipped to give prisoners with serious mental health problems the proper care they need.

Berger will use the debate to accuse ministers of presiding over a “shocking and shameful rise in suicide and self-harm” in jails. “Most prison psychiatrists don’t feel able to deliver a basic level of care,” she will say. “Mental health services in prisons are at breaking point.”

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment directly on the figures. A government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to making prisons places of safety and reform and giving prisoners the support and treatment they need to help turn their lives around.

“All prisons have established procedures in place to identify, manage and help prisoners with mental health issues. Increased support is now available to those at risk of self-harm or suicide, especially in the first 24 hours, and we have invested in mental health awareness training for staff.”