This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license.
This book tells the story of Barbara Robb and her pressure group, Aid for the Elderly in Government Institutions (AEGIS). In 1965, Barbara visited 73-year-old Amy Gibbs in a dilapidated and overcrowded National Health Service psychiatric hospital back-ward. She was so appalled by the low standards that she set out to make improvements. Barbara’s book Sans Everything: A case to answer was publicly discredited by a complacent and self-righteous Ministry of Health. However, inspired by her work, staff in other hospitals ‘whistle-blew’ about events they witnessed, which corroborated her allegations. Barbara influenced government policy, to improve psychiatric care and health service complaints procedures, and to establish a hospitals' inspectorate and ombudsman. The book will appeal to campaigners, health and social care staff and others working with older people, and those with an interest in policy development in England, the 1960s, women’s history and the history of psychiatry and nursing.
About the Author
Claire Hilton has been a National Health Service psychiatrist in London, UK, for 18 years. Her research has ranged from mental health of young people with sickle cell disease in Jamaica to clinical and historical aspects of old age psychiatry with a particular interest in the interface between history, policy and practice.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: A strange eventful history.- 2. Psychiatric hospitals and older people: status quo or making changes?.- 3. Barbara Robb, Amy Gibbs and the ‘Diary of a Nobody’.- 4. Establishing AEGIS and writing Sans Everything: ‘the case’ and ‘some answers’.- 5. Reprinted before publication: plotting a route for Sans Everything.- 6. The inquiries: a lion’s den.- 7. Whitewash and after: ‘Most good is done by stealth’.- 8. Then and now: concluding remarks.
What People are Saying About This
“Hilton’s study reveals the development of a two tier system in post-war mental health services, in which political and medical apathy and insular institutional cultures condemned vulnerable older patients to degrading treatment. Barbara Robb’s campaign highlights the difficulties facing those who challenge substandard care practices, and the need to remain vigilant to the care of vulnerable people in today’s society.” (Vicky Long, Senior Lecturer in History, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK)
“Barbara Robb succeeded from both her sheer force of personality and her unerring instinct for how to engage with the media and with government – this book could double as a handbook to any campaigner seeking to highlight and reform injustices.” (Amanda Thompsell, Chair, Old Age Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK)
“Claire Hilton has reminded us of an iconic woman who singlehandedly did so much to change and improve the care of people who have mental health problems. This seminal work should be read by students of all disciplines who are studying for a career in working with the mentally ill.” (Peter Carter OBE, former general secretary and chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, UK)