11th February issue

Back to London, and a flurry of activity to get this issue together after our DDN/Alliance service users’ conference in Birmingham. The response to the event has been so encouraging: it was such a busy day that it was difficult to step back and see what the experience was like for those attending. But we couldn’t have hoped for a more positive reaction. As Daren Garratt says in his article on page 14, we plunged in knowing what we wanted to do at the outset, but had to adjust and improvise to keep the growing event interactive.

Whatever the lessons for next year, the main thing is that we have a wealth of enthusiasm to build on. The team of Alliance volunteers was amazing, and the network of friends and service user groups is growing, alongside the professionals who want to make positive treatment experience and active user involvement happen in their area. We’re reading each and every comment jotted down at the interactive session in the afternoon, and are teasing out key issues for our conference special issue, next DDN. Whatever the tricky issues are, pinning them down in print must surely be a constructive step towards tackling them. To all our speakers – some of whom did not have the easiest remit, but who participated excellently (a special mention, NTA chief executive Paul Hayes!) – a massive thank you.

Issues don’t get more difficult than our cover story this time. It was hard to accept the picture on the front of the magazine, and I was at first inclined to vote for a more subtle illustration that didn’t make me flinch. But that after all is the point: it’s an unpalatable issue and you will be left appalled by the state of affairs described on page 6.

Closer to home, Maggie Semmens and Claire Clarke take apart their treatment offered to women to examine if there are better ways of responding to their specific needs. The research and active response is an excellent example of changing things for the better whenever you can.

Read the magazine: PDF Version