"One way to meet targets is to refuse to assess people"

About: NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

(as a parent/guardian),

Earlier this year, and with some reluctance, I spoke with my excellent GP about the possibility of receiving support from our local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. This was following a recommendation to do so by our Social Worker.

The GP listened carefully to what I had to say about the challenges that my daughter had been experiencing and its impact on our family. Our GP agreed a referral to CAMHS would be appropriate and wrote to them, expecting we would be seen by the service fairly quickly.

The next we heard on the subject was a letter forwarded from our GP to us, which had been sent to him by the CAMHS service. It stated that based on what our GP had said in the initial letter, they had decided that my daughter did not have a diagnose-able mental illness and they would therefore not see her. This it would appear is the new approach to psychiatric assessment in Glasgow's CAMHS services. As if the indignity of not even offering to speak with us wasn’t enough they also added that if at a later date it become clear that she may be experiencing a diagnose-able mental illness we should again approach them for help.

Having spoken with my GP he is as unhappy at this response as I am. Without going into any of the details of my personal situation we agreed my daughter is entitled at very least to a professional assessment and to the other forms of support which a CAMHS assessment can make available.

It appears to me that in an effort to meet Scottish Government set targets for waiting times, that NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde have taken the policy decision to stem referrals by basing their assessment of need on GP letters. These letters are written in the context of a ten minute appointment by pressured GP's and in no way can be considered to be based on a professional assessment. Not least because the GP didn't actually speak with my daughter prior to writing the letter.

I think the Scottish Government bears significant responsibility for this situation with their arbitrary and blunt targets leading to practices which may reduce short term demand but in doing so deny people in their right to access timely help and professional assessment. I also think it makes a mockery of the commonly cited but rarely realised principles of preventative health and early intervention.

I’m pleased to say that I have been to access some additional support through the voluntary sector which, as ever, is left to try and pick up the pieces from failing statutory provision.

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Responses

Response from Lorna Gray, Patient Experience, Public Involvement Project Manager, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dear Sithean,

I am so sorry to read this and would really like to try to help here. I have already been in contact with the Head of Specialist Children's Services who is just as keen as I am to find out what happened here and find some resolution for you and your daughter.

We would also like to assure you that what you experienced is not usual practice so we would be grateful for your assistance in helping us get to the bottom of it. To do so, I would appreciate if you could get in touch with me directly to share a few more details - my email address is lorna.gray@ggc.scot.nhs.uk.

I hope to hear from you soon so that we can take this forward with you. In the meantime, I am glad that your daughter is getting some support at this time and I wish you both all the best.

Lorna

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Update posted by Sithean (a parent/guardian)

I would like to thank Lorna and her colleagues for responding so quickly and fully to my concerns. We have, as a result of this posting, been able to access help and are also assured to hear there will be some kind of review of access to CAMHS services.

Thanks also to Patient Opinion for making it possible for people to share their experiences of Health services.