"speaking to a duty worker at my CMHT"

About: Cardiff & Vale University Health Board Pentwyn Health Centre

(as the patient),

Approximately three weeks ago I phoned to speak to a duty worker at my CMHT. Two hours later the worker phoned me back but when I started speaking, explaining why I had phoned the worker interrupted me to stop me as they was still reading my file. Since the worker was phoning me back I really think they could have done this before picking up the phone. I then attempted to have a reasonable discussion about what I should do about my medication given that I was experiencing many of my early warning signs for mania. The worker refused to listen to this saying it's not all about medication though is it? Your treatment is also physiological therapy. I said that yes it is a combination but this really was a medication issue to do with the bipolar and I have been managing this illness very well for twenty years now. The worker interrupts again saying “You have have you? ” In a bullying tone. I fail to see how this could be helpful or in any way part of her job. I remained calm and yes that yes I have managed it well and I am expert patient. Again I am interrupted with “you are are you? ” At this point I realised I was not going to get anything remotely helpful from this worker and so I said that yes I am and because of these comments I am ending the call.

This kind of attitude is in my view completely unacceptable. I fail to see how this can be part of the role of any member of the CHMT. If the worker had read my file properly before phoning me back it would have been clear that I do have a diagnosis of bipolar one disorder which had been confirmed by a professor of psychiatry and is being treated with medication which is being monitored by my consultant at this CMHT. It has taken me three years of battling, going through numerous complaints procedures to finally get a care plan that works for me and this is actually much cheaper than allowing me to deteriorate and become very unwell. (See my previous stories) To deny me the opportunity to get advice about my medication is ridiculous and cruel. I am the one who has to deal with the repercussions if an episode is allowed to progress. This can mean ending up sectioned as I did in 2013 (see previous stories) Seeing a psychologist does not change my history or my diagnosis and my consultant has been very clear with me that he does not doubt my bipolar diagnosis.

If the care plan that I have worked so hard to be put in place is going to work I need to know that I am not going to encounter this kind of immature bullying attitude from CMHT staff ever again. Unless or until this can be guaranteed I am not prepared to speak to a duty worker at the CMHT and will instead go to my GP practice. I know that no one at my GP practice would engage in this kind of rude bullying behaviour. This incident I have written about here is not an isolated one. Having been a client of this team for over two years now, on only one occasion has the duty worker had the courtesy to introduce themselves by name and speak in a warm manner. Thankfully I was able to get the advice I needed directly from my consultant and this meant that while I have unwell for a few weeks the episode has been nipped in the bud in the way I know it can if I act early enough. I really don't understand why I cannot be supported by all CMHT staff to do this.

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Responses

Response from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

We are sorry to learn that you did not have a helpful experience when contacting the CMHT duty worker. This will be discussed with the multidisciplinary team and staff reminded that they should read the case notes/care plans/management plans before contacting service users in order to provide appropriate advice. However, I am pleased to note that you were able to speak with your consultant and receive the advice you required.

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Update posted by dragonvoice (the patient)

While I am pleased that you intend the issue of staff reading case notes before speaking to people there is also the issue of how staff speak to people. it can be very hard to talk to someone you do not know and work out what it relevant etc. Staff in my opinion do need to introduce themselves by name. I have had a number of experiences of this team beginning the phone call with Duty worker, what's the problem? This is cold and impersonal and also implies that service users cannot solve problems themselves. I would prefer it if they introduced themselves by saying my name is ... how can I help you? or what can I do for you?. And there is the issue of the tone they take during the conversation. my issue here was not only that they had not read my notes but they spoke to me in what felt like a rude and bullying manner. I find this unacceptable and feel this has to change too.

Response from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

We apologise that staff did not introduce themselves to you, they should say their name as well as their role when introducing themselves and we will remind staff of the benefits of ‘Hello, my name is......’.

Update posted by dragonvoice (the patient)

i think hello my name is should also apply to responses on patient opinion. I have no idea who I am communicating with and this has also been the case with other responses I have received to other stories.

And to reiterate are you going to do anything about staff speaking to people in a rude and bullying way? and in this case a way that obstructed the medication crisis plan which was already in place.

Response from Jane Rowlands-Mellor, Lead Nurse Patient Experience, Patient Experience, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Good afternoon,

My name is Jane, I am the Lead Nurse Patient Experience. I provide a response on behalf of the Health Board following a discussion with relevant colleagues. Regarding your question about the attitude of staff, I can advise that the Senior Nurse for community Services will remind staff to be polite and courteous and to treat people with kindness.

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