"My poor fathers cry for help"

About: NHS 24 Western Infirmary/Gartnavel General / General Medicine

(as a relative),

My father called the NHS 24 one evening feeling suicidal. This was his first time calling the NHS for any sort of help ever. My father had suffered from mental health issues after a breakdown and never recovered after many years but it was always stabilised and maintained with minimal support. However my fathers mental ability and capacity was very poor therefore sensitive communication skills were needed when speaking with him for example speaking slowly and with short sentences not with too much information or mentally his mind could not interpret.

I spoke with my father the day after speaking with NHS and he explained how it was very difficult for him to answer the amount of questions asked and he was on the phone for half an hour and never got any further forward to the appropriate persons (psychiatric nurses or advice) my father ended up hanging the phone up feeling exhausted after the conversation and amount of information explained.

Sadly my father did commit suicide 4 days later. The GP admitted my dad to a general ward because he was spitting up blood (which was normal for him due to having constant lung infections) but I emphasised to the doctors in the ward that it was psychiatric help he needed and that the symptoms of his mental state were manifesting physically but they just looked at me as if I didn't know what I was talking about.

Father did tell the medics he was suicidal and they discharged him the next day. I arranged for the crisis psychiatric team to come to the house a couple of times. This was new to dad as he never needed this input before but it was of no help. He committed suicide 3 days later.

I think there should be a mental health line in the NHS 24.

I feel also that if my father was admitted to a psychiatric ward and given the correct treatment this may have saved his life.

: -(

The daughter of an amazing loving father.

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Response from Shona Lawrence, Patient Affairs Manager, NHS 24

picture of Shona Lawrence


Thank you for your feedback via Patient Opinion. I would firstly like to offer you, and your family, my sincere condolences on the very sad loss of your father. I read your posting with concern and I do appreciate you taking the time to provide this feedback which I am sure was difficult for you. Your feedback will be shared with key clinical staff within NHS 24.

NHS 24 is keen to explore in detail the contact that your father had with our service. This would enable us to review this to establish if there is anything we need to consider for callers to our service who are displaying such symptoms to identify if there is anything we need to do differently. NHS 24 does have a range of services available to support patients who are displaying mental health symptoms. Patients can then be referred to the Community Psychiatric Service or signposed to other agencies who may be able to provide support, advice and help. We do also, when it is felt helpful, refer callers to the Breathing Space Service whose highly trained Advisors are able to offer a listening and signposting service.

NHS 24 is keen to understand how your father's call was managed and I would be pleased if you would be kind enough to contact me directly on 0141 337 4582 to discuss this further. You can also email me directly at patientaffairs@nhs24.scot.nh.uk

I wish you well.

With kind regards

Shona Lawrence

NHS 24 Patient Affairs Manager

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Response from Niall McGrogan, Head of Patient Experience and Public Involvement, I work for Dr Margaret Maguire, the Director of Nursing, here at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Dear Life

I am really sorry to hear of the death of your father. I cannot begin to imagine the loss you are experiencing. It is so tragic that he reached out to the NHS for help and we did not meet his needs. You describe him as an amazing loving father and your posting reflects the love you had for him.

There is nothing I can say that will change what has happened. But we can also learn from the past and strive to improve our communications and how we listen to our patients and their loved ones.

I would like to share the story of your father with colleagues - which I will do so on the basis of what you have already said. However, if you feel, now or any time in the future, that you could tell me a little bit more about your father's experiences and your own interactions with our medics, I would be keen to write up the detail and share with our teams at the Western and at Gartnavel. I can be contacted at niall.mcgrogan@ggc.scot.nhs.uk or you can call me on 0141 201 5932.

In the meantime, you and your father are in my thoughts.

Yours sincerely,

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Response from Craig White, Divisional Clinical Lead, Directorate of Health Quality and Strategy, Scottish Government

picture of Craig White


I wanted to add to the responses of Shona and Niall to say how much you have been in my thoughts since I read your posting on Patient Opinion. I cannot begin to imagine the distress and heartache you have experienced since your father died in such tragic circumstances. The information you have presented and the questions that this raises are the sorts of ones that are sometimes the focus of NHS Board significant adverse event investigations - I am sure that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS24, if they have not already commissioned one of these, would want to ensure that the circumstances that you outline are investigated.

Please know that if there is anything that NHSScotland can do to provide you or those affected by your father's death with support - we are here for you now and as you need us in the future,

Yours respectfully,

Craig White

Professor Craig A White

Divisional Clinical Lead, Healthcare Quality and Strategy Directorate

Scottish Government

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