"Mental Health services in NHS Borders"

About: NHS Borders

(as the patient),

I have been waiting for an appointment for psychological help since September 2015. Just before Christmas I received a letter asking me to reply if I still wanted an appointment. Being so close to Christmas it went out of my mind fairly quickly. On New Years Eve while in Norfolk visiting family I found a message on my phone asking me to reply to the letter again.

Christmas is always a time a find difficult and I find January in particular a difficult month.  I phoned to say I would like an appointment to be told I had been discharged back to my GP because I had not responded in time.

I can understand why this would seem a reasonable response by the service, BUT when you are having a relapse in mental health, "normal" responses are difficult. I now feel so embarrassed about having to go back to my GP. I don't understand why I was not offered the opportunity to be seen, being fair to other service users I would have accepted being put back on the waiting list but at the start again. The way the person on the phone spoke to me has left me feeling inadequate, stupid and afraid to get in touch to ask for help. It would have been helpful if they had been curious as to why I had not replied instead of just telling me I had been discharged back to my GP because I had not complied with "their" process? In other words - it's my fault my brain ain't working like a normal person at the moment... Then again maybe that's why I'm seeking help?

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Responses

Response from Susan Cowe, NHS Borders

Dear Frustrated but a fan, I am sorry we have added to your distress. I am keen to look into this for you and wonder if you would be able to contact me on 01896 826714? I will be in the office from 09:00 on Monday 1 February 2016.

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Update posted by Frustrated but a fan (the patient)

Susan was really helpful when I spoke to her about this issue and understood where I was coming from in respect of mental health interfering with 'normal' thinking.

I received a call from a member of staff. I was very upset with their response. They quoted the process at me and repeated what the first person had said. There was no recognition of patient needs, no empathy that I was finding getting in touch in time difficult. No curiosity as to why I had found it difficult. No acknowledgement that I was being reasonable in being willing to be put at the back of queue. It left me so upset, the member of staff said they would get somebody more senior to contact me.

I phoned Susan Cowe and told her what had happened and said that I didn't want a call from somebody senior in that service as I had no confidence I would be heard.

I find it astonishing that the front desk of a service that exists to meet the needs of its customers who have mental health issues, hides behind rigid protocol and blames me for having a mental health condition that had escalated at a time of the year that is known to be difficult and therefore found contact difficult to comply with.

I now feel I have no help, my condition has deteriorated further and I am having to go private to get the help I need.

I'm not looking to blame anyone, I know that the service is under great pressure but I feel disempowered and so frightened now that if I have additional relapses in my health I have nowhere to go. Please mprove your service for the betterment of patients and your staff who can't enjoy having this pressure?

Response from Evelyn Rodger, Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Acute Services, NHS Borders

Dear Frustrated but a fan,

Please accept my sincere apologies that you were not treated with care and compassion following the subsequent contacts by our staff. I am deeply concerned, although not as distressed as you will be, that you were once again met with an apparently uncaring attitude.

Please accept my assurances that I am taking a personal interest in your situation and will ensure it is resolved. Susan Cowe will be in touch with you following the completion of my investigation.

Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback at this difficult time for you and for your kind remarks about Susan.

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Response from Susan Cowe, NHS Borders We are preparing to make a change

Dear Frustrated but a fan, I am aware that Susan Cowe has now spoken with you to discuss your current situation. Susan and I have also been in touch with senior service managers who are keen to work with you to learn from your experience. Brian Paterson, Service Manager, would value being able to talk to you about what we can do to improve our service. Could I ask you to let Susan know when you feel able to do this and she will be happy to arrange for you to speak to Brian.

I hope that you are feeling better and can advise that you have been added back on to the relevant waiting list in the position you would have been if you had not needed to be re-referred by your GP.

Evelyn Rodger,

Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Acute Services

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Update posted by Frustrated but a fan (the patient)

This is encouraging, I will be touch with Susan. I have received (yesterday) the standard letter from the service advising I have been referred and to sign it and send it back. Given what you say above do I still need to do that?

Also I hope I have been put to what would have been the back of the queue when I phoned in January. I accepted that I had delayed replying for the reasons I stated and was happy to be put on the list but at the back so as not to inconvenience other patients.

Response from Susan Cowe, NHS Borders

Dear Frustrated but a fan, Just to let you know, I have spoken with the service who have confirmed that there is no need for you to sign and return the form. I would also like to assure you that the service have put you back on the waiting list at the place you would have been if you had not been removed from the list. I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready to do this.

Kind regards.

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Updates, changes and questions related to this story