NOV 5th 2018
THE victim of a paedo ring involving former MP Cyril Smith claims his life was “torn apart” as he faced a five-year wait to see a psychologist about his traumatic past.
Mr Todd was a teenage pupil at a residential school in North West England at the time he claims the former Liberal MP and other men used it as a “paedophile playground.”
Smith was MP for Rochdale, and in 2012, two years after his death, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted that he should have been charged with the sexual abuse of boys.
Mr Todd said: “I was a victim of the Cyril Smith scandal, I was one of the victims and there was abuse of other children at that school involving Cyril Smith and others.”
He claimed: “Cyril Smith was in the same league with Jimmy Savile, but I never got access to the treatment I need. NHS Highland has made me wait five years.”
He added that further details of what happened will emerge next year, when he is due to give evidence at child abuse hearings in England.
However, he confirmed: “I was at the school in the north west of England for three years and it was a paedophile playground for that time.”
Having kept the horror of what happened to him bottled up for years Mr Todd finally plucked up courage to seek medical help and was put on NHS Highland’s waiting list for a clinical psychology appointment in 2013.
A torturous wait followed and the final straw came in February when he received a letter from NHS Highland saying the waiting time for a psychological services appointment was now 2020.
Mr Todd said: “It has torn my life apart because I have had to wait a scandalous amount of time. My life had become like an elastic band and it snapped. I thought, I can’t wait till 2020, that is when I started a relentless campaign to get something done. If I had had to wait till 2020 I wouldn’t be here now, I somehow found the will and determination to keep going and get to the end of this.”
His complaints, backed by some politicians, saw him receive weekly treatment, for four months this summer at New Craigs Hospital in Inverness and he has nothing but praise for the clinicians and medical staff there.
But he says NHS Highland management let him down badly by breaking a promise that he could stay overnight in patient accommodation, in the grounds of nearby Raigmore Hospital, so that he had medical back-up.
He said: “I stayed in the patient accommodation but then they started putting me in B and Bs all over Inverness, even though they knew I was going down every Wednesday for four months. Clinical psychology is mentally draining, I could go into crisis with no-one to help me.”
In September, when he went for a assessment for the second phase of his treatment, he was told that, as there is a bus service, he would be expected to travel to inverness and back to Thurso in the same day.
The 250 mile round trip from Thurso to Inverness entails eight and a half hours travelling on a bus with a 5am start and 10pm return home, which he says is clearly not acceptable.
He said: “They took the service away from Caithness and they now expect vulnerable people to travel that distance. I would like the health minister to take action against NHS Highland and to get them to explain why I had to wait five years and how they plan to remedy the distance I have to travel. David Alston, the chairman of NHS Highland, has sent me a letter, but I want an apology from him face to face.”
He added: “I want to stress that I do not blame any clinicians or medical staff at all, they have been fantastic.”
A spokesman for NHS Highland said:
“NHS Highland cannot discuss individual cases. We apologise for the inconvenience caused by travelling and the wait. However, we are grateful the patient has been able to travel to us and we are pleased to hear he has benefited from his sessions to-date. We acknowledge the issues raised but we would like to reassure patients we have already begun to make changes. The changes we intend to make are in their early stages and will need to be implemented carefully over a period of time. While we understand this will not address all of the issues immediately, they will in the near future reduce some of the issues the patient highlights.”
Highlands and Islands Regional MSP David Stewart said ”I do not want to comment on any individual case, but in general terms I can advise that I have made contact with the Chief Executive of NHS Highland, Elaine Mead, relative to the waiting times for constituents with mental health issues from our more rural and scattered communities. I will continue to push for services to be returned to the local community up in Caithness and Sutherland to prevent patients having to travel such long distances.”
”I do not want to comment on any individual case,”
That’s the SNP’s favourite saying. They think it’s (& use it as) a get outta jail free card! I’m sick to death of hearing them use it in an attempt to cover up yet another of their glaringly obvious f*ck ups!
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We believe everyone in Scotland should have access to emotional and well-being support. We are committed to ensuring faster access to mental health services, with people getting the right help at the right time – and free from stigma. We continue to work with health boards to ensure that the target of 90 per cent patients receiving treatment within this period is achieved.”