Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

 

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 takes place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019.

We often associate the word ‘bedlam’ with raving madness and chaos, whilst forgetting that it derives from the name of a hospital, Bethlem, which was established in 1247 in London.

Now called the Bethlem Royal Hospital, it is a well-regarded psychiatric hospital providing a wide range of clinical services for people with mental health and / or substance misuse problems. Its history is, however, very colourful and is perhaps a microcosm of how mental illness has been viewed, and treated, over the centuries.

As far back as the middle of the sixteenth century, friends and relatives were allowed to visit the ‘inmates’, not least to bring food and other essentials for their survival. Public and casual visitors with no connection to the inmates were also routinely allowed in. It would be easy to think that there was entertainment to be had in viewing the extraordinary behaviours of the mentally ill, but the original rationale behind allowing the public access was rooted in financial considerations.

The governors of the hospital aimed to encourage ‘people of note and quallitie’ to visit and be moved by moral benevolence to make generous donations to aid the running of the hospital. They succeeded in this aim, but it soon became obvious that visitors came mostly for the entertainment value. What drew the visitors was, “the frisson of the freakshow” where Bethlem was “a rare Diversion” to cheer and amuse. It became one of a series of destinations on the London tourist trail which included such sights as the Tower, the Zoo, Bartholemew Fair, London Bridge and Whitehall.

Attitudes to mental illness have shifted somewhat since those dark days, and in generally the right direction. But within the police service it seems there may still be a mountain to climb.

A recent study of almost 17,000 police across the UK found that 95% of officers had been exposed to traumatic events, almost all of which were work-related. Civilian staff too were affected, with  67% of operational police staff reporting they had experienced trauma.

The study showed that 20% of the respondents reported symptoms which were typically experienced by sufferers of PTSD or complex PTSD.

Disturbingly, some 66% of respondents were unaware they might be suffering from PTSD or other anxiety related illness.

The study appears to indicate a widespread lack of awareness by senior managers of the presence of mental health problems among officers and staff.

Gill Scott-Moore, chief executive of Police Care UK, the charity which funded the research, has said,

The service has real challenges around recognising and responding to the signs and symptoms of trauma exposure and is heavily reliant upon generic NHS provision that isn’t equipped for the specialist treatment needed.

 

 

View the study here

 

 

Meanwhile, in April a national police wellbeing service was launched. Branded as ‘Oscar Kilo’ (OK) it is funded by a £7.5 million investment from the Government through the Department of Health. Chief Constable Andy Rhodes of Lancashire Constabulary heads up the new initiative. He announces on the Oscar Kilo web site that it

. . . was created and designed to host the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework and bring together those who are responsible for wellbeing. It is a place to share learning and best practice from across emergency and blue light services so organisations can invest the very best into the wellbeing of their staff.

 

 

Find the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework here

 

 

Elsewhere, between 2015 and 2019 MIND, the mental health charity, had thousands of volunteers across the emergency services actively challenging stigma, and learning more about mental health. The charity says they made positive changes for themselves and colleagues and the charity learned how organisations can improve mental health support, tackle stigma and increase workplace wellbeing.

 

Blue li

 

Back in January 2017, Police Oracle, the online publication which covers policing matters, launched its ‘Blueprint  Campaign’. Under that banner Police Oracle says it,

. . . accuses the government of failing to meet its obligation of protecting our officers both in the job and particularly, when they have been forced out of the service because of physical injuries or mental trauma.

 

Read the announcement here

 

 

It’s of some significance to note that only the Police Oracle initiative makes any mention of the thousands of former officers who were ‘forced out of the job’ as a result of disabling injury whilst on duty. Once out, their forces have generally done nothing to assist them in overcoming their disabilities. In some forces, quite the opposite. Some forces have instead chosen to hound and harass disabled former officers by a misplaced enthusiasm for conducting ‘reviews’ of their degree of disablement – an enthusiasm driven entirely by a callous desire and foolhardy expectation of easing the pressure on force budgets.

IODPA’s constantly growing membership includes serving officers who are on the cusp of retirement due to injury on duty. Their accounts reveal just how inadequate are the levels of training and awareness of mental health among line managers and more senior officers, as well as civilian staff. The accounts of pensioners are also extremely harrowing, and lay bare the true state of affairs, which is that in some forces no regard or concern is shown for the impact on them of reviews and of the financial uncertainty and anxiety engendered by the prospect of repeated reviews continuing over their lifetimes.

All of IODPA’s members have suffered, and continue to suffer, with a diversity of injuries incurred in the course of performing their ordinary duties. Many of those injuries are of the mind. Notably, depression and PTSD feature highly on the list, but the entire spectrum of anxiety disorders are represented.

In some cases, mental injury is the sole recorded ‘duty injury’ but members who have only physical injuries recorded as ‘duty injury’ also experience resulting mental damage. Hence, it is unusual to find anyone who has been retired with an injury pension who has not suffered some form of mental illness, at some level.

IODPA is pleased to see a greater emphasis on safeguarding the mental health of officers and staff, but is disappointed to see no official government-led initiatives to improve the situation of former officers with psychiatric damage who are retired on an injury pension.

We suggest this shortcoming urgently needs to be addressed. There is a need to start at the top, with the senior managers of forces. Chief Constables have the office of Police Pension Authority (‘PPA’) and are responsible for making all the decisions concerning the injury award scheme. Some of them, thankfully currently only a handful, are actively harming disabled former officers through abuses of the injury pension regulations.

We could fill many pages here with examples of truly appalling behaviour by individuals who clearly have absolutely no comprehension of the need to apply  care and compassion to any dealings with disabled former officers with psychiatric damage. We know, from a study of force management of ill health retirements, injury on duty awards and police medical appeal boards overseen by Chief Constable Morgan and sponsored by  the College of Policing, that,

Many forces are struggling due to the lack of expertise within their organisations.’ and, ‘The structure of some force HR facilities do not support the management of the process… and …issues are compounded by a lack of dedicated subject matter experts across the service and training opportunities.

 

What concerns our members is that whilst the inadequacies highlighted by Mr Morgan can be addressed, unless positive and impactful action is taken to significantly change attitudes towards mental illness and injury, then disabled former officers, and officers about to retire due to mental illness or injury, will continue to suffer at the hands of the likes of Mr Morgan. For it is Mr Morgan, in our opinion, who is spectacularly failing in his duty of care for his disabled former officers.

Mr Morgan is not alone in his unawareness, but it is Mr Morgan who has given us the most glaring example of how bad things can be when senior managers fail to understand how to engage with people who are suffering mental health damage. We have reported elsewhere, in earlier blogs, on the situation in Staffordshire, where Mr Morgan is Chief Constable and Police Pension Authority. He wished to conduct mass reviews of the degree of disablement of injury on duty pensioners. When deficiencies and alleged unlawful procedures in the process, as applied by Mr Morgan’s staff, were brought to his attention he reacted in a way which could only possibly be the result of deep ignorance of mental health issues.

He ‘invited’ a number of those pensioners under review to a meeting in summer of 2018. He could have arranged a neutral disabled-friendly environment to meet, listen and discuss issues with those who had raised concerns about the way review process was being conducted. Instead he announced he would be holding the said meeting, at police headquarters,
to which pensioners – all disabled in some way or another, – were invited. His invitation reads
more like a summons.

Here are the original blogs –

https://iodpa.org/2018/07/13/chief-constable-morgan-sends-letters-to-vulnerable-pensioners/

and

https://iodpa.org/2018/07/23/cc-morgan-refuses-pensioners-legal-representatives-to-attend-a-meeting/

Mr Morgan described the proposed meeting thus: ‘The meeting is to explain the next stage of the process.’ There could not have been a clearer indication that the meeting would never be about clearing the air through informed discussion.

When pensioners asked if their legal representatives could attend, and were met with a refusal, the pensioners all decided there would be no point in attending if Mr Morgan wished to use the meeting only to ‘explain’ what he intended to do. Pensioners felt they would be exposed to pressure in the anxiety-inducing environment of police headquarters.

In our opinion, Mr Morgan’s actions seem to be those of a man who is by instinct adversarial and dogmatic. They appear to be the actions of a man who cares more about defending a flawed process into which he has inserted allegedly unlawful demands, rather than caring for the health and wellbeing of disabled former officers. They seem to be the actions of a man who wishes to hear no other views than his own.

His force is now facing a legal challenge to his decision to reduce the pensions of the seventeen pensioners who questioned his review process. It may cost the force many tens of  thousands of pounds and will do nothing to foster good relationships with injury on duty pensioners.

Just as Bethlem became bedlam and a meme for historically inappropriate mental health care, so too has the ‘review’ provision within the police injury benefit scheme regulations become, in the hands of the likes of Mr Morgan and a few others, a meme for the entrenched institutional insensitivity and disregard for disabled former officer’s mental health.

Bethlem reformed itself over the years and became a shining example of modern healthcare. We have to hope that the police service and the government will do more than announce initiatives and studies and will take positive and far-reaching action to eradicate the negative attitudes exemplified by Mr Morgan and others who we have identified and named in these blogs.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
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17 thoughts on “Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

  • 2019-05-21 at 12:33 pm
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    Forces will continue to pay mere lip service to mental health issues. These are already impacting severely on operational capability, that’s all that they’re really concerned about. The situation will increase exponentially as time goes on, given the stresses caused to serving officers by punishing workloads and swingeing cutbacks. I really fear for the mental well-being of all front line officers in the next few years.

    Senior managers will respond with warm words and little else. I believe they’re already anticipating a the huge increase in ill-health retirements as a result of mental health problems over the next few years. Will they let these officers, destroyed by their service go with a pension and an injury award, I fear not! Instead, in the drive to save money I expect to see an upsurge in early implementation of unsatisfactory performance procedures the moment any issues are suspected. This way they can get rid of these people at little cost to themselves, and leaving their former officers in complete destitution.

    Once you are broken, you cease to be valued.

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  • 2019-05-15 at 6:55 pm
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    The decision to review an IOD pension is one that should be considered on a case by case basis and part of the process should take account of the reason for the original award. It’s not rocket science. Every force occupational health department has a copy of the original H1 form and where the reason stated on it refers to any kind of mental health issue, the PPA has a duty of care to the individual and should approach the process with due sensitivity. Unfortunately this seems to be lost on the likes of Morgan who prefers the ‘one size fits all’ approach of mass reviews where the prime consideration is the (wrongly) perceived possibility of budget savings. I won’t hold my breath waiting for him to change his ways. He and others like him are strangers to the concept of basic human compassion. For those unfortunate enough to be suffering under this maladministered process, take heart that the IODPA membership are wholeheartedly behind you.

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  • 2019-05-15 at 4:22 pm
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    An excellent article on a serious matter which is not going to go away and only getting bigger. I was also retired from the job following life changing injuries and as a result of the injuries was diagnosed with PTSD twice whilst serving. I thought the treatment I had then had worked but sadly not. When the letter arrived from my force back in April 2017 the whole can of worms was opened up again and I am now back in therapy for the third time. All because of the way Staffordshire have handled the whole subject of Injury on Duty pensions. I am sorry to say that because of this I no longer trust them at all.Where is your caring approach to dealing with mental health issues in regards to retired Injured Officers Staffordshire. It does not exist we are just a burden too you.

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  • 2019-05-15 at 2:35 pm
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    Thank you to the blogger who takes the time and trouble to put together these very helpful and thought-provoking posts.
    Not before time the world is changing and we are finally recognising the pernicious effect of untreated/unsupported mental health difficulties. In this modern world, Chief Constables rightly declare that they focus policing activity on protecting the vulnerable. That is a very laudable aim and if police officers aren’t in the business of protecting people from abuse, in all its forms, then we should all give up.
    Rank and file officers appear to be doing their level best to adhere to safeguarding policies in these difficult austere times and any deviation from the policy is sanctioned.
    What really concerns me, is the utter hypocrisy of the position adopted by those Chief Constables who preside over policies that further victimise former officers who have been made vulnerable by performing their duty.
    This abuse of power is the most cowardly of acts.
    Shame on you: You speak with fork tongue, methinks.

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  • 2019-05-15 at 9:08 am
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    The likes of MORGAN et al have large public budgets controlled by tiny mendacious minds.

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  • 2019-05-15 at 8:41 am
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    Another well written, factual and informative article. It disappoints me that this excellent article will repose here on the World Wide Web during Mental Health Awareness Week, whereas forces’ so called well being initiatives will make headlines and television news. It reminds me of days gone by when recently promoted officers were sent away on residential man-management training courses. We were subjected to the trends of the day – all very interesting – then at the closing of the course the address by a chief officer included the instruction to ignore all we had heard and go back to our forces and continue as we had always done before!

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  • 2019-05-15 at 6:46 am
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    You know what really makes me feel so totally disgusted about this whole affair, it is that Morgan really acts in such a cold heartless manner.
    He really doesn’t give a darn about the severe negative effects he is inflicting due to the ruthless and frankly unlawful manner in which he is conducting his mass review on his Injured On Duty Pensioners.
    I used to be proud of being a Police Officer, I really cared about the well being of others and still very much do. Actions speak louder than words and Morgans actions tell a very sad tale indeed.
    Shame on you Morgan.

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  • 2019-05-14 at 11:49 pm
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    As a direct victim of Chief Constable Morgan and his staff in this totally unlawful, uncaring and hateful campaign against former injured officers, I need to point out that there is another player in this disgraceful activity and that is the Selected Medical Practitioners (SMP’s).

    These are the medical professionals who are supposed to be totally independent and totally unbiased in their determination of the Officers degree of disability at the time of retirement and then at any future review of that disability, to decide if there has been any substantial change, since the decision was made, or the last review carried out.

    They well know that they cannot revisit the original decision and any new decisions should be made based solely on the medical evidence before them and not by trawling through full medical records looking for an excuse to reduce the payments.

    Unfortunately, either because they wish to please their paymasters, (who are the very forces carrying out the activity), or because they don’t seem to recognise a clear conflict of interest, or God forbid, maybe other worse reasons, these SMP’s seem happy to put the desires of the forces to save money, rather than the welfare of the patient, either mentally, or physically. A Doctor – Patient relationship does exist, although often, they deny that relationship exists, so to them there is no duty of care.

    We therefore have the situation where not only are the forces and their HR/OH departments, the perpetrators of bullying, harassment and discrimination against already poorly pensioners, but also the SMP’s, who do have a clear duty of care, then compounding these hateful actions with others of their own, often claiming to be acting in a quasi-legal capacity, not as a Doctor.

    Complaining against the process falls on deaf ears, as does complaining about the breach of confidentiality regarding sensitive information, as the Information Commissioner’s Office, seems to bend over backwards to protect the police. Complaints to the GMC regarding the SMP’s actions, likewise are excused. The whole system is rotten to the core and allows extreme views by two particular forces and specific personnel, to try to circumvent the very rules put in place by Parliament to protect those said injured former officers, like me.

    The answer to all this, (other than by checking when being appointed), that Chief Constables don’t carry a history of hatred towards IOD’s, or by ignoring the word of certain Force Solicitors, who keep losing Court judgements, would be for the government to take the whole process back centrally, like the NHS pension system.

    If forces did not have to find the IOD pensions out of operational budgets, it coming instead direct from Government.

    If SMP’s were paid by the Home Office, rather than the very force trying to save money, thereby showing their true independence & impartially.

    If Police Pension Authorities didn’t wear another hat as the Chief Constable, wrestling with budgets set by Commisioners and finally, if only politics had been kept out of policing, things wouldn’t be so much better for all concerned.

    Even if that is a pipe dream, then other factors might bring this about by other means, as since IODPA was formed, IOD pensioners are no longer isolated. They now have good legal support and are buikding a clear record of winning against these unlawful actions in Court.

    On top of that, forces support staff are cut to the bone, so most cannot afford to get into the mess that Staffs & Northumbria are in, so simple economics might just play its part.

    One force has tried to do reviews in a fair way. All IOD’s recognise there is a duty to review if needed and this force is using a simple letter and a return envelope. Total cost a few sheets of paper, two envelopes & a couple of stamps. If the IOD states their is no substantial change, (often backed up by a GP’s letter), then that’s the end of it. To quotecan advert…….Simples.

    Compare that to the £750 per hour, average £1,500 per appointment, plus the employing of extra staff to cope with countless enquiries and complaints. Factor in the using of practically the whole of a joint legal services team, to defend unlawful actions. Or…….Not so simples.

    If forces like Staffs and Northumbria did that simple process and if the forces waiting in the wings, watching to see how this pans out, were to also to follow that path, then perhaps some of that wasted public money could be made available to tackle the very dangerous and worrying rise in Mental Health issues of serving and former police officers.

    So whose in the Mad house now?

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  • 2019-05-14 at 11:08 pm
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    All forces do at the present time is give lip service to mental health issues. What is often overlooked is the number of officers that take their own lives every year, are they sufferers of mental health brought on by the job? In some cases it is obvious but others are out of the blue and unexplained.
    I would dearly like to see a force step up and declare what they are doing to combat mental health issues, what they have in place now, what they plan for the future and how they see the long term effects.
    I don’t believe that any force has a plan because of the way they treat serving and retired officers. It is bad enough to lose your career with the stigma of a mental health injury but for forces to then bully IOD’s and literally threaten them is beyond contempt and disgusting behaviour.
    A force could really make a difference in the way they deal with MH and they could even save lives. I fear that it isn’t sexy enough and they will go on painting their nails and wearing high heals to promote other issues.
    Thank goddess for Iodpa and other groups and charities who are leading lights in supporting Injured officers both physical and mental.

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    • 2019-05-15 at 7:38 am
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      Mr Morgan and his HR or legal team haven’t a clue about mental health issues. Demanding (let’s face it, it was a demand, that all 17 turn up for his meeting to tell us what he was going to do to us, denying us a voice, ie our legal representative when many of us struggle to even get up it of bed, never mind go back to the exact place where the nightmare journey started, reliving those moments that a uniformed supervisor forces you to put yourself at harm.

      £7.5 million spent on Wellbeing, another ‘pie in the sky, ‘lip service project’ which no doubt not a penny will be seen and put into action for current serving officers never mind the failure in the Forces to make sure any support is available to IOD’s, but it will be a good ‘press’ opportunity, it’s just a shame that current and retired officers can see right through their smokescreen and inadequacies. It should of course be able to employ a few mental health nurses who in due course will go on the sick after hearing all the horror stories we all lived through and still do.

      It’s a sad day when people who perpetrate crime have more rights than those who gave their health, hobbies and overall healthy wellbeing for public service, defending decent law abiding members of the public, even sadder that other Forces are being led by the Clowns in this Circus.

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    • 2019-05-15 at 7:57 am
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      Oh they will not like it if you highlight the numbers of those officers that a) commit suicide or b) die within two years of completing their service.

      We are just (a money saving) number to them and the quicker we depart this life, the more money they save, so where are these ‘savings’ factored into the reports (I mention specifically the Northumbria Police report published on this website) do they highlight how many have passed on, how many that they are pushing into having to claim benefits! How demeaning, degrading forcing officers who often have no other means of financially supporting themselves into having to go to food banks and claim benefits because they can’t afford their rent or weekly food bill.

      There are several high officers who gave everything to the job, in more ways than one, there are many IOD retired officers alone, vulnerable and struggling with daily issues, nightmares, panic attacks, even years after the incidents that retired them, living on a cocktail of drugs, marriages that died at the time of the IOD, no support at all from the none existent welfare departments or Human Resources. I often wonder when the SMP’s and HR (let’s face it they are support staff) had their free frontal lobotomy.

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  • 2019-05-14 at 10:48 pm
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    I think this article is brilliant in the respect of highlighting this issue. Thankyou for publishing it as it is very relevant to me.

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  • 2019-05-14 at 9:22 pm
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    If only Morgan and his ‘team’ of ‘reviewers’ at Staffordshire, and the very similar ‘team’ in Northumbria, did research into the resulting mental damage caused to IOD pensioners with their methods of ‘reviewing’, which closely resemble bullying and harassment, and include unlawful activity in that they ignore the actual wording of the Regulations. It could well be that, in the near future, they will get a taste of what it is like to be pulled in to be investigated. The HUGE difference will be that there is EVIDENCE of their misbehaviour in EVERY single case they have dealt with where the IOD pensioner is a member of the IODPA.org charity. I am almost certain that there will be many non-IODPA member IOD pensioners who have submitted to Morgans unlawful practices with no challenge because they TRUST the authority. When they become aware of IODPA they can then appeal any incorrect/unlawful decisions and be placed on the correct banding for their condition.

    When it is considered that many IOD pensioners already suffer PTSD and what further TRAUMA, such as a Staffordshire/Northumbria style of medical ‘review’ can cause, it should also be considered what the consequences will be to those causing that additional trauma! Hopefully it will be ‘Karma’.

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  • 2019-05-14 at 9:22 pm
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    Very well put IODPA Admin. One can only hope that these forces will learn to work with IODPA instead of the CCs and Human Remains bludgeoning their way in the mistaken belief that the law is for them to interpret and nobody else.

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  • 2019-05-14 at 9:15 pm
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    I came to terms with having a life long injury as a result of an injury in duty yet due to extremely poor treatment by the Policing Family has left me in a state of constant anxiety wondering what underhanded tactic will be used next.

    I hate reading about Forces across the country championing the Mental Health cause when they show such disdain for the workforce whom experience such Mental Health injuries.

    Heyho next week it will be another flavour of the week crime topic that will get media attention then the powers that be will reshuffle the workforce to show how seriously ‘we’ are taking it

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  • 2019-05-14 at 9:09 pm
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    I was retired on an injury pension many years ago having received serious physical injuries which have necessitated numerous stays in hospital, operations and procedures. Not only do I and my family have to live with this every day but now with thanks to Chief Constable Morgan and his team I am also very stressed and anxious because of the actions of these people in the underhand unlawful way in which they have conducted themselves implementing the reviews in such an unlawful manner. This has the effect of causing my blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels so much so that I am having to take very strong medication to control it. Unfortunately every time a letter drops through my door from Staffordshire Police I am physically ill. My blood pressure goes through the roof and I suffer great stress. Do they care….not at all they don’t give a damn…all they are interested in is saving a pound from there budget. Whilst this unlawful action of theres continues I will continue to suffer as will many more injured ex police officers. However being a member of the Iodpa has made me realise I am not alone and together we beat this great injustice. The only thing is at what cost and I don’t mean financially.

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  • 2019-05-14 at 9:01 pm
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    My husband was subject to a death threat and after suffering 4 years fighting for ioda for complex ptsd he was awarded it not enough done to support individuals and families 😞

    Reply

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