When thinking about this month’s blog I initially thought that it had been a quieter period than normal, but having reflected on what we have been up to, and after reviewing the calendar, I can see that is not the case and quite a lot has happened over the last month.
I will start by reassuring everyone that the Castlebrae new build is still on track for its opening this month. I must confess that we did have a bit of a wobble with some of the dates, and anyone who has ever “had the builders in” at home will recognise that feeling, but we are now on track for our original plan and hope to take the new buildings over in the next few weeks, and once we have done so, the intent will be to get them in use for the patients, so they can benefit from them as swiftly as possible. I do not want to tempt the fickleness of fate so I will not talk about it anymore in this blog, but Paul Grant, the Centre Manager at Castlebrae, will give us a fuller update in next month’s blog, which I hope will contain some pictures of the handover of the building and the new facilities.
Unusually for the PTC we have only had a few visitors to the Centres this month but they did include an important meeting from the GMP Team to discuss better joint working in order to get their officers to the PTC as swiftly as possible when they need to take advantage of our facilities for treatment. We have not rested on our laurels in the period however, Peter Moore and his Fundraising Team have attended and briefed retirement seminars on how the PTC can continue to help them once they have retired, we have briefed a new student officer intake at West Yorkshire Police and I visited Jack Berry House which is one of the injured jockey’s charity houses, to see if we could learn anything form them and their facilities.
We also had the opportunity to attend and brief at the Ministry of Defence Police Senior Leaders Conference, and have continued our partnership working with MIND the Mental Health charity, who held an event in London which we also attended. Lastly but by no means least, Mark Oxley and the clinical team from Harrogate, attended an OH Conference in Northern Ireland for all of the PSNI OH Staff which provided both sides with the opportunity to update each other on what they were doing.
For those of you who attended the PTC this month, you will be well aware of the fact that not only were we open over the Easter Period, we are actually open every single day throughout the year with the exception of the Christmas period when we close for 2 weeks. We believe that it is important to ensure that we are open and available for all of our patients when they need to come, as many of them will be working on a variety of shift patterns and will not necessarily have the luxury of being able to plan their working weeks around a typical working pattern.
This has been reflected in the current waiting times for treatment which as I write this are 3 weeks at Harrogate and zero weeks at Auchterarder, which means that once your application been approved, we can admit you the following week to Auchterarder. Waiting times do of course vary over the year and clearly some periods are busier and more popular than others, but I can assure you that we always endeavour to get patients in for treatment as quickly as possible, as we are well aware that it can be extremely frustrating to have to wait for treatment when you are trying to get back to fitness and full time duties.
I would like to end on this blog on marking the retirement of Terry O’Neil the Patient Support Advisor from St Andrews. Terry has been with us for almost 5 years and it was clear from the number of hits on our Facebook posting about his retirement and other letters and comments, quite how many of our police patients he has helped and how many lives he has touched over the years. Terry is going to retire from paid work at least, but does have lots of plans to keep him busy including some voluntary work, and although it has already been said in lots of other places, I want to use this blog again to publicly thank him for his work.
As I write this the BBC news is running an article about a 35% increase in psychological sick leave for police officers and staff over the last 5 years. This is an issue that we continue to pay very careful attention to at the PTC, and you will all be pleased to hear, that we intend to replace Terry with not just one but 2 Patient Support Advisors, and they will form a vital pillar within the PTC Psychological Well Being Programme which will be the subject of the blog in early June.