"Locked Doors and Hot Potatoes"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult Mental Health Services - Community (City)

(as a service user),

Hi I’m A Catherine Wheel and I access local adult mental health services via the Stonebridge Centre (City East) in Nottingham. Nottingham’s local attractions are attractively listed in article 7000 in Nottingham’s newspapers. Sometimes you can be attracted to the arrow in Robin Hood’s bow, unless some city slickers have got to it first to distract any attraction to our closed for refurbishment castle.

My tongue in cheek post concerns: locked doors and hot potatoes. Oh yes it does.  

It’s to do with the lack of access to a hot filling to go in my hot potato on account of our locked doors policy. On the Duncan Macmillan site in our Trust I can access Cafe Art for a cold filling in my hot potato without the hindrance of a locked door.

Hot fillings however come courtesy of Cafe Options a few blocks away from Cafe Art. Alas on the door of Cafe Options is the sign of our Trust - you need to have a code in your head to unlock the door to secure a hot filling for your hot potato. I can access this filling by going all the way back to Cafe Art where I’m to use a free telephone and ask someone with a dreadful code to unlock the door to the Options of hot fillings for hot potatoes.  

Back at Cafe Art there’s a list of telephone numbers, except for Cafe Options. There’s one for Facilities Services (Hotel Services), although I never knew we had a hotel. Still this person might be busy getting rooms ready for the new guests and not have time to sort out hot potatoes. There’s another one for a Flexible Services Manager, and I’ve an appetite for that phone number. I only hope this flexible manager’s office isn’t too far from Cafe Art from whence this flexible manager will have to come, collect me, and take me to my Optional hot filling for my hot potato.

So much for hot potatoes. Oh no it isn’t.

I thought I’d spare you a freedom of information request to ascertain the number of locks we have. So here’s my arbitrary approach. I never struck up a deal with an (en)titled person to count the locks at any of our castles. I didn’t ask myself: What specific incident caused each of the doors to have a lock put on it? Is this incident resolved or not? No radio replied: “I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue”.

For legal reasons, and Trust security, my count reveals:

7000 or so external locked doors to even gain entry if you are a visitor, service user (with and without an appointment), friend, carer, family, post person, or kissogram

7000 or so locked doors once inside to access any of the 7000 or so internal corridors

7000 or so locked doors for every 7000 or so rooms down these so-called 7000 or so corridors

Locks on all doors THANKFULLY for the unknown number of toilets.  

0000 locked doors if you are a member of staff with a code in your head, or perhaps sub-contracted with a code. I didn’t consider toilets and 0000 locks for staff on this point.

(My research report is in article 7000 in Nottingham’s newspapers).

If you’re worried about that code in your head, pharmacists are openly accessible everywhere else. Remember: no codes means no excessive blows of your nose.

By the way, if you haven’t got a code in your head, Cafe Art serves an excellent hot potato with refrigerated coleslaw. Savour now, before there’s 7001 locked doors.

With tongue in cheek (despite being a Veggie)

A Catherine Wheel 

in the Certain Ages, with nothing to lose and everything to gain.  


Response from Tim Constable, Service Manager, Adult Mental Health, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear A Catherine Wheel

Thank you for bringing a very valid concern to our attention with such humour. (I did laugh out loud courtesy of your great description).

I will pass this on to our Hotel Services for them to consider a different way of offering food choices.

kind regards


  • A Catherine Wheel thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by A Catherine Wheel (a service user)

Hi Tim

So glad you enjoyed the hot potatoes.

Can't wait for my weekend break in our hotel now you've mentioned we do indeed have Hotel Services. Sincerely hope I don't have to remember a door code, or I'll never be able to access my luxury room with tea and coffee making facilities, and those complimentary hot potatoes with assorted fillings.

Thanks for your response. And for having a laugh. Both very much appreciated.

Best wishes

A Catherine Wheel

Response from Mark Davies, Facilities Manager (South), Facilities, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Dear A Catherine Wheel

My apologies for the delayed reply to this ’tongue in cheek’ comment on Care Opinion, however here goes...

Firstly, thank you for your (really interesting and amusing) feedback about jacket potatoes and locked doors at Duncan Macmillan House.

To answer your comments and firstly the locked doors, here’s the reasons for this.

Prior to any door codes being fitted at Duncan Macmillan House, there were numerous thefts plus some verbal and physical assaults on staff within the building. These were escalated through the usual Trust incident procedures and it was decided that door locks with codes should be fitted to prevent easy access to anyone entering the buildings with the aim of making it a safer place to work.

This decision was taken by the Trust Executive Leadership Team. At this point I’m pleased to say that no verbal or physical assaults on staff or reported thefts have taken place since the door codes were introduced.

Jacket potatoes and fillings: Jacket potatoes with cold fillings are served in Café Art and also at ‘Options’ with hot and cold fillings. I appreciate your comment about buying a jacket potato in Café Art then going to Options (via coded doors) for a hot filling, however you could go straight to Options next time and buy your hot filling with your jacket potato.

We have no plans to replicate the menus in both cafes (e.g. no hot fillings in both) as we want to keep them slightly different from each other.

I hope this goes some way to explaining the reasoning for making these decisions.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


  • A Catherine Wheel thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by A Catherine Wheel (a service user)

Hi Mark

Sorry to hear that there has been some trouble in the past at the Macmillan site. Pity it ended up with all the doors having locks though. And it's all over the Trust. Because that impacts on all of us. And we don't all do those things. Just we get tarred with the same brush.

How much abuse, theft etc, was there, I wonder? Could it have been dealt with another way? Who knows. Just that lots of places have theft, abuse, and physical assault in Nottingham, yet thankfully all the doors in Nottingham don't end up locked, and when it's in our Trust we get locks in perpetuity. In terms of health services I can go to my gp and dentist and get in both big hospitals without lock dilemmas. Aren't I the same person who goes there as comes to the Trust?

I wonder if things do get reviewed. If other ways are tried? Is a wider view taken to fathom how things occur in the first place? It could be issues relating to something quite different than the actual theft, abuse, assault. Sometimes things are structured further off than the incident itself. Sort that out and the incidents might not occur. Or might not be so awful that every door has to be locked for ever. And are the staff purely "victims"? With no training, agency, to deal with "situations"? I did community stuff once and I met a wide range of people, and theft, abuse, etc occurred, yet no one resorted to asking the projects to lock people out.

Maybe zero tolerance wins every time, regardless of the circumstances of the "incidents". Sometimes I've observed zero tolerance and can see how both persons involved escalate the issue. Once I witnessed zero tolerance when it was indeed the member of staff who just reacted with that without due cause. This was some year's ago and in young person's services, I have to add.

About the Cafe Options, and getting a potato with a hot filling. I can't get into Cafe Options without a door code as the entrance is locked. That's where the outside door sign says go to Cafe Art and phone up. There isn't a phone number in Cafe Art to ask someone in Cafe Options to collect me and take me to the cafe. Still summer's coming and hot fillings won't matter. Anyway it is impossible to alter Cafe Art for hot food, and totally unnecessary. Simple solution: unlock the door to Cafe Options.

Cafe Art doesn't have a lock. So please don't inform the powers that be, or there soon will be another lock. If there's been no thefts, abuse, assault in Cafe Art it's a shame that this has been the case in Cafe Options, to merit the lock there. What's Cafe Options secret ingredients?

It's just nice for me to have a cafe because I can't always cook a meal for myself and I find Cafe Art just the right place to be when I can't "go public". There's people around, yet space, and I can be there at the periphery of people. People don't come up to me, but they are there. I have connection, and that's important to keep. Also the cafe staff are so nice and friendly and understanding. It's a safe, lovely place to be sometimes. Cafe Art is superb and it's the best location, setting, area, service, the Trust has to offer. It's not all that often, Cafe Art becomes a necessity, but it's those times when this sort of thing really matters. I've significantly damaged my kitchen twice because I've tried to carry on at these times and it just isn't worth it. It's hard too at these times to be confronted with so many locked doors. It seems like this is just the time for no locks.

Yes the places in our Trust are for all of us, staff and service users, carers, friends, family etc. But I wonder if the balance has gone a bit awry on this one?

If you would like to, please let the executive decision makers read this reply by giving them the link to Care Opinion, my post and all the responses. It'd be good to hear from them.

Thanks for your time and your response. It is an excellent response outlining all the reasons and the intentions of the catering services, and has provided me with further ways to consider the issue. I'm delighted you have taken so much trouble getting back to me.


A Catherine Wheel

Response from Amy Gaskin-Williams, Service User and Carer Involvement and Experience Manager, Involvement Team, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Amy Gaskin-Williams

Hi A Catherine Wheel,

Just a quick reply in response to your request:

If you would like to, please let the executive decision makers read this reply by giving them the link to Care Opinion, my post and all the responses. It'd be good to hear from them.

We have drawn your posting to the attention of a member of our senior leadership team for them to consider the continuing necessity for locked doors at Trust headquarters.

They have every intention to respond as soon as they can, but unfortunately they're not able to respond immediately. We hope you won't mind holding on a little while longer.

Thanks again for your posting,

Amy and Jane

  • A Catherine Wheel thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by A Catherine Wheel (a service user)

Hi Amy and Jane

Many thanks for letting the senior member of leadership team know about my request to hear from the decision makers. I am very impressed with the Involvement Team in Nottingham as you are all responsive to comments, suggestions, and sometimes disappointments that you always manage to pick up on. I admire too how you tenaciously take things up and follow things through. That is outstanding.

I think the Involvement set up here is a strength in Nottingham, and I hope it can in time permeate right through the Trust in terms of the overall culture, policies, procedures, and practitioner approaches here. I know that different ideas, improvements, changes, and so on, take a long time to gain traction and I know that nowadays I'd like things to happen quicker than can in all reasonableness be achieved.

I realise that sometimes changes asked for need to be held back until other kinds of changes have happened first. So for example taking locks off all doors isn't going to work if hearts and minds aren't in accord with that. And if literal things change before people do, then it can end up in changes not working. Indeed there's a chance that, for example doors, are locked again with a review being put off to an extremely distant future, if ever. Because it's vital to take people with you when you want to make a change. Changes don't work without the will for change. The will for change will only be there if the need for a change is acceptable to everyone concerned. And that uncertainties/doubts are accepted as valid, and addressed to allay them over and over again.

So I know really things take time. I go a lot to Middle Street Resource in Beeston, they are my metaphorical and sometimes literal life line. Their take on my increasing impatience and other remarkable qualities that are emerging is along the lines of: "A, Cathy, me duck, it's an age thing. Keep coming to Poetry!"

I'm going to be very mean and swingeing now, and say to you, the external doors at Middle Street are automatic doors, and they simply open when anyone goes near them!!!! And once inside I've only found locks on the all most private of areas; The women's toilets. No, I know nothing about the gents!!! However the Middle Street ethos, and approach, are different from anything I've experienced here. How mean can A Catherine Wheel get, hey?

I seem to have aged myself out of all virtues now. Thank goodness the Involvement Team are younger, still diplomatic, patient, and oh so importantly GREAT FUN!!!!!!

Thanks all persons Involvement. You are extended hands. You keep me coming. You make my days!

Best wishes

A Catherine Wheel in the Certain Ages with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Response from John Brewin, Chief Executive, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Dear A Catherine Wheel

Thanks for your contribution to the ongoing debate about security and locked doors at Duncan Macmillan House. This is a situation we have debated many times. Some of our staff work late and especially in the winter we have had occasions when unwelcome visitors have caused trouble. This should not stop regular visitors to the building being given the code.

One cafe can be accessed from the outside space without a code and the other requires a code. You can contact the Involvement Team to help you with this.

Please don’t let that put you off enjoying a meal in our facilities.

Your thoughtful and humorous feedback is always welcome.

Don’t stop!


  • A Catherine Wheel thinks this response is helpful
    {{helpful-1}} other {{helpful-1 == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} so too

Update posted by A Catherine Wheel (a service user)

Hi John

Delighted to read your response. It gladdens me that this issue is debated in the Trust and that it has an ongoing quality about it. I'm pleased to have gleaned bits of takes on how the staff who work on the campus think and feel about this too. As a service user I do not get opportunities for discussion etc with staff about policy, procedures, wants, needs, dreams, hopes, aspirations. We don't seem to have open discussion, meetings of hearts, and minds in these senses. We do have considerable involvement approaches in other areas though and I'm very pleased about this. And I'm positive about the strength of involvement here.

I love meeting the Involvement Team so pestering them for an Option or two would be a joy. Asking Flexible people from Flexible Services has been a brilliant experience when I did that to gain access to some of the hotter Options. (see the post Hot Topics and Flexible Services). A member of the Involvement Team is already addressing the access issue. Hopefully my tunnelling suggestion is underway. I can assure you the Involvement Team wastes no time.

You might be about to breathe huge sighs of relief on my assurance that this side of retirement is far too much fun to consider applying for one of your enticing waged employment opportunities. You will never have to give me a code in my head. I will never have to ask around for the code because I will forget it within minutes of being briefed. I will never put it down somewhere and misplace a code forever. You won't find me wandering around the campus on the wrong side of the door, unable to do my job. You won't be informed, that despite my unattained outputs, salary for services un-rendered will have automatically hacked its way into my impoverished bank account. You will never have to experience my mind that now has a mind of its own. How lucky can a Chief Executive get!

Thanks for letting me know this issue is not forgotten. That matters. It makes me feel less alone with it. Thanks for that. And for responding in an informative, hopeful way.

A Catherine Wheel, in the Certain Ages, with nothing to lose and everything to gain.