"My brother is receiving no care for his mental health problems"

About: Adult mental health (Croydon)

(as a relative),

Around 2011 my brother was referred to a SLAM mental health service in Croydon for a mental health assessment, because of anxiety and depression. After having suffered with these conditions for most of his life, and these greatly interfering with his ability to live a healthy life, he was very hopeful that this service would be able to help him. However, while attending this mental health assessment he was assessed by a Psychotherapist who treated him in a seemingly very uninterested/uncaring manner. In response my brother felt extremely intimidated. After the assessment, this health professional wrote, what is, in my opinion and that of our GP, an unprofessional report about my brother - making negative comments about his appearance and statements that seemed to attack his character. She also offered him no help and referred him back to our local GP service.

Although another family member telephoned the Croydon mental health service in question, and explained what had happened, nobody offered to do anything to make up for the problem which had happened. All this family member was told was that this mental health professional had left.

In my view what should have happened is that my family member should have been offered an apology and that another assessment with a different mental health professional immediately offered/arranged. This did not happen however and as a result my brother is now receiving no care for his mental health problems from Croydon mental health services at all.

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Responses

Response from Bill Berry, Patient Experience Manager, Patient Public Involvement Team Organisation and Community Directorate, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Black Mamba

I'm sorry to hear about your brothers experience. If you would be prepared to give me a little more detail I will look into this and and respond accordingly. You can do this online on patient opinion or you can contact me using the contact information below.

Regards

Bill Berry

Service Improvement Manager

Patient and Public Involvemet Team

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

M: 07825180472

E: bill.berry@slam.nhs.uk

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Update posted by Black Mamba (a relative)

Hi

Many thanks for taking the time to respond, and passing on your email address. My mother has the report in question and knows the full situation that happened - especially as she accompanied my brother to the mental health assessment.

I will pass your email address onto her so that she can contact you directly as soon as she can.

One further thing I will add, that I did not think to mention in my story here, is that she did alert our local GP service at the time as to the situation and the GP who saw this report was very shocked at what was written in it. I believe that that our GP service must have been sent a copy of this report too and so must have it amongst my brothers medical records there.

Many thanks again for taking the time to respond.

Update posted by Black Mamba (a relative)

Hi Bill

I felt it best to respond again here due to some unexpected circumstances that have come up with my mother. Because of these circumstances, I think at this stage it's best for me to email you the further details as promised. One thing I will confirm here, that I did not think to before, is that my brother does not plan to use the SLAM service again at this stage. My mother is helping him with seeking alternative support from an autism support service as he does not wish to return to it, and she also feels that this would be better for him at this stage. If as a result you feel it would not be of any use for me to give you any more information I would be very grateful if you could confirm this either here or by email (I don't know if you received the email I sent you on the 24th of March?) or else if you still feel it would be of help to your service for me to give you more details to do the same. If so I will aim to further respond by the end of next week.

Awaiting your further reply

Regards

Black Mamba

Update posted by Black Mamba (a relative)

Hi again. As I've still not had a response I'll assume at this stage you've changed your mind and don't wish to communicate with me further on this.

Given what my personal experiences via the SLAM Trust have already been, I can't say this is altogether unexpected. Normally I'd find this very disappointing, but at this point I'm actually thinking it's just as well. I've reached the point when I think alot is wrong with the way your Trust treats patients and that myself and the rest of my family are better off steering well clear of it.

Given the choice between bad care and no care, I'd rather opt for the no care option. I'll leave things there.

Response from Bill Berry, Patient Experience Manager, Patient Public Involvement Team Organisation and Community Directorate, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Hi Black Mamba

Please accept my apology for not responding in a more timely manner but I have not been at work for a few weeks and only returned on Wednesday. I am working my way through my emails and will respond to you early next week. Again please accept my apology for not responding.

Regards

Bill

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Update posted by Black Mamba (a relative)

Hi Bill

I am very sorry if I over reacted. I do think its important I mention though, that (separate to this) I'm following a formal complaint procedure with your Trust over different issues and during the early stage of it I experienced a fair bit of SLAM staff not doing the things they initially said they would. The right kind of things were said in writing, but what actually happened was another thing altogether. This didn't happen just the odd time, it quickly became apparent to me there was a regular pattern of it.

I hope you can understand, as a result of what I've said here, why it is that at this stage I don't know who I can and cannot trust, professional communication dealings wise, within your organisation anymore and why this is the same for the rest of my family.

Still I am very sorry if I jumped to the wrong kind of conclusion, as a result of my other experiences with SLAM staff I mentioned. If was wrong, I hope you can understand where I'm coming from and won't take my earlier response personally.

Thank you for your apology and for confirming you will come back to me by next week. I will wait to hear from you.

Black Mamba

Response from Bill Berry, Patient Experience Manager, Patient Public Involvement Team Organisation and Community Directorate, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Black Mamba

Thanks for your "off line " email and I'm glad we had the opportunity to correspond. I understand your frustration especially if you thought I was not going to respond. I know you have thought about the options I suggested and thanks for your response to my suggestions.

If I can continue to be of some help to you please feel free to get in touch.

Regards

Bill

Bill Berry

Service Improvement Programme Manager/Manager PALS

Directorate of Organisation and Community

South London and Mudsley NHS Trust

Maudsley Hospital

Denmark Hill

London SE5 8AZ

E: bill.berry@slam.nhs.uk

M: 07825180472

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Update posted by Black Mamba (a relative)

Hi Bill, thanks for your further response I appreciate that.

I do have some questions. Within your job role, for SLAM, as Service Improvement Programme Manager, are you happy to consider customer/service user feedback comments,whether positive or negative, with the goal of helping improve service user experiences of your organisation? If so, do you share the feedback with the right people within SLAM who can make those improvements? How do you show SLAM service users/SLAM members how this all works if so?

Will just also confirm here, that in regards to the negative service user feedback I shared with you in my most recent email to you, it was meant in the light of constructive criticism rather than unhelpful criticism, although perhaps it didn't come across that way. If not, then I am sorry for giving the wrong idea.

Regards

Black Mamba

Response from Bill Berry, Patient Experience Manager, Patient Public Involvement Team Organisation and Community Directorate, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Hi Black Mamba

In answer to your first question: yes I and my colleagues are very open to listening to customer/service user feedback. We believe its essential to hear what people's exeriences are even when its uncomfortable as people describe when things haven't gone as well as they thought it should. More importantly we are committed to using feedback to improve our services. We routinely carry out service user experience surveys and the outcomes of these are used to create action plans for improvement. Last week I attended a meeting of Link Workers I.e. ex-service users who do voluntary work within our services. Together we created action plans for improvements within the services. This co-working has created real positive change. If you are interested maybe you might think of being part of this process? I'd be happy to talk to you about how to get involved.

When I get individual feedback like yours I liaise directly with the service in question and discuss how we might reflect on and respond in a constructive way. Sometimes the feedback leads to simple changes e.g. one piece of feedback about an inpatient unit was the timing of patient activites and staff handovers, the ward manager listened and changed the timetable and although a small change it had a big impact on the service users on the ward.

I hope this give you get a sense of how open we are to listening to our services users, friends and families that we are committed to responding to and making positive changes to the services we provide.

Please get in touch if you want to discuss anything I have raised in this post.

Regards

Bill

Service Improvement Programme Manager/ Patient Advice Liaison Service Manager

Directorate for Organisationand Community

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Maudsley Hospital

Denmark Hill

London SE5 8AZ

M; 07825180472

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Update posted by Black Mamba (a relative)

Hi there Bill, many thanks for your further response confirming all of that information. That's much appreciated.

In relation to the information on Linkworkers you shared, I take it that you are referring to the work Hear Us do with SLAM? I have heard of them. Unfortunately because of my panic attack/anxiety difficulties its very difficult for me to take part in big group activities including meeting type settings. However, if there is any other way that I can helpfully contribute to the action plan improvement process please let me know as I would definitely be interested/keen to hear about it.

In relation to the information you shared with me on what you do relating to individual service user feedback, I just wondered if you also work closely with the Parliamentary Ombudsman service after formal complaints have been brought to their attention? It's my understanding that they discuss possible service improvements with the SLAM Trust, although admittedly I'm not sure how the full process works there.

The information you shared in relation to the measures you take in relation to improving SLAMs services does reassure me that there are some staff within the SLAM NHS Trust open to listening to patient feedback and who take it seriously. Thank you again for sharing.

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