South Wales Echo

‘Dr Jenkins never gave up on me...’


- RYAN O’NEILL reporter ryan.oneill@walesonlin­

A FORMER patient of murdered Doctor Gary Jenkins has called him “the best psychiatri­st” she ever had in a touching tribute. Dr Jenkins was brutally murdered after being targeted in a homophobic assault in Bute Park, Cardiff, on July 20 last year.

The consultant psychiatri­st who worked for Cardiff & Vale Health Board was attacked by two men and a teenage girl who left him for dead after subjecting him to a brutal attack which went on for 15 minutes. He died on August 5 last year having sustained catastroph­ic injuries including a bleed on the brain and multiple fractures.

Maddy Read, a former patient of Dr Jenkins during his time at the health board, penned a touching tribute to the doctor, who she said it was “easy to say was the best psychiatri­st I had”.

“I’ve received care from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board secondary mental health care virtually all my adult life, and I’ve had many doctors,” she said. “As my consultant Dr Jenkins had a perfect balance of experience, knowledge and passion. He cared about his patients and had empathy.”

Ms Read said Dr Jenkins “stood for equality” and “actively broke down barriers of the doctor/patient”. She said this included demanding that the entrance doors be open to her community mental health team during the pandemic so patients could wait inside, out of the cold and rain.

“One of my first memories of him was his sincere apologies in having to cancel a patient as his dad was very unwell and needed him to take him to an urgent medical appointmen­t,” she said, adding that “his tone of sorrow and true understand­ing of what that meant to his patient missing his appointmen­t will stay with me for a long time”.

Ms Read said Dr Jenkins “really cared about his patients” and recalled him speaking with her for 30 minutes on one occasion when she came to her community mental health team but couldn’t be seen due to staff shortages.

“I’ve never known a psychiatri­st, let alone a consultant, take on this role, as they are tied up with other matters. Giving me time from his busy schedule was therapy in itself.”

Ms Read added: “Gary showed passion in his work, and was not afraid of asserting his opinion with what he thought needed to be done for us.

“He stood up for me with referrals, expressing frustratio­n with the forever long waiting lists.

“I was in an appointmen­t with him and he felt so annoyed that he could not get answers for me during a phone call, he hung up on them.

“Dr Jenkins listened to me, valued me, showed me respect, dignity and most importantl­y never gave up on me and my ongoing recovery. I trusted him and his hope for me has given me great comfort.”

Ms Read said Dr Jenkins was “not afraid to speak his mind when it involved inadequaci­es of services and spoke with real empathy and understand­ing .... one can never learn from a book or exam, but comes from lived experience and in my mind that makes the best mental health worker possible.”

“I’m sure he is and will continue to be a great loss to Cardiff and Vale University Health Board mental health services, and a hard act to follow.”

On Friday Jason Edwards, 25, Lee Strickland, 36, and Dionne TimmsWilli­ams, 17, were all given life sentences for Dr Jenkins’ murder. In the case of Timms-Williams, this will be life detention.

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