"What An Awful Service So Far"

About: Birch Day Unit / Access & Advice Team - St Helens

(as the patient),

I have suffered from anxiety now for nearly two years and despite various treatments from both the PCMHT and my GP, there has been no improvement in my condition. Indeed, the vast amount of physical and mental anxiety symptoms I have now have far exceed those I encountered when this condition 'appeared'.

As I had seen several people within the Primary Care Mental Health team at St Helens, Merseyide all of whom were very nice; I was finally referred to the Access and Advice team. Today I felt particularly down and could see no solution in sight with not even a date for my referral appointment. In addition to this, my physical symptoms were worse than they have been in a long time... and that is something that takes some beating!

In hope of advice.. something I assumed the Access and advice team would be able to help me with.. I first of all spoke to a gentleman who put me through to the secretary, this lady was very useful and when I explained how low I was feeling, she kindly asked if I would like to speak to a practitioner who may be able to help. I had already explained to this lady how down I was and how debilitating my anxiety had become. The gentleman I was then passed on too was about as useful as a wet match.

His primary concern was that the PCMHT had not mentioned that I had already been through CBT with them. He also made a point of telling me that my alcohol consumption was not the right way too deal with the anxiety and that he would refer me to a Lifestyle team (yet another referral) to speak with someone on this matter. When I explained however that work was becoming extremely hard, as was life in general, and asked if he had any advice that I could use until the referrals came through. His answer was 'No, not at the moment'! Then... silence. Astonished I said my goodbyes politely enough and ended the call.

I would like to know how this man can justify telling somebody he could not offer advice to somebody who is, to say the least, struggling to cope with anxiety and who had explained this several times? How did this man not consider that I may well, in desperation, have decided to end it myself?

I would like to know how after two years of enduring a horrendous time, I can be told there is nothing that can be done at the moment. Essentially, sit and wait... not a great suggestion for someone struggling to cope!

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Response from Sandra Embling

Thank you for your comments regarding the Access and Advice Team.

We take your comments seriously and are sorry you feel you have had an unsatisfactory experience with the team. We would like to give you the opportunity to discuss your experience with a Senior Manager.

If you would like to do so please contact the management team on 01744 646760.

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Update posted by Ste Galloway (the patient)

As annoyed as I was at the way in which I was treated by the aforementioned gentleman at the Access and Advice team, I have to say that I tried to call Sandra yesterday as requested, but she was unfortunately in a meeting.

Today I received a call back from one of her colleagues who discussed the matter with me and asked if there was anything they could do to assist me. Though this in no way changes my opinion on the member of staff I spoke to during my earlier time of need, it does very much improve my opinion of the service itself.

It is refreshing to find that a patient's opinion still counts for something... sometimes.