"Waiting and waiting as my condition gets worse"

About: Barnet, Enfield And Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust / Psychotherapy

(as the patient),

My GP referred me to the Denis Scott unit in February 2010 for CBT. Having received no contact from BEH my GP sent yet another referral, again no response! I contacted PALS and 8 weeks following the initial referral I was invited to attend the Denis Scott unit and saw a person, who asked a series of questions which I answered. At no point did he enquire about the obsessive tendencies I had experienced or suicidal thoughts which I was increasingly experiencing.

Four weeks following this 'assessment' I called the Denis Scott unit & spoke to a person who advised there had been a delay in dispatching correspondence and I should hear from the unit in a fortnight. As a Medical Secretary I understood the pressures on the admin staff however 4 weeks following my conversation, I called the unit again only to be told that my case had been reviewed by the clinician and deemed to be 'inappropriate'! To add insult to injury the correspondence advising the PCT, GP & myself had never been dispatched.

It was now FOUR MONTHS since initial referral from my GP. During this time my condition had worsened and due to to bereavement and further isolation I am increasingly considering suicide (which scares me). After four months and countless calls, each time I am advised someone will call me back, including the complaints department. I even called the Chief Executive's office & spoke to a person who took my details & advised she would arrange for someone in the Denis Scott unit to call me back that very day but no call was received.

I am no further to receiving the care I need. Instead I was advised to call Barnet Mind who simply advise there is a three month waiting list for counselling! Had BEH's service been more efficient I would probably be receiving treatment now.

I have no doubt the response will be that the service is improving but my experience is not too disimilar from the previous patient's comments which were left 4 months ago. I feel the 'assessment' process is merely a filtering process design to eliminate as many patients, as possible, of accessing the services offered by BEH as I have since discovered there is an 18 month wait for psychotherapy. How can this be considered a service?

I am not sure what my future holds and can only hope I am able to get help before my situation gets worse.

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Response from Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust

We are sorry for the delays that you appear to have experienced in response to your referral and assessment.

The Barnet team in question aims to respond to non-urgent referrals within 10 working days, and assessment should take place within 13 weeks. We would of course be very keen to examine your case, if you think we failed to meet these standards (see contact details below). We are currently auditing response times as a routine improvement measure.

We are sorry for the distress you experienced and we hope that you have now accessed the type of counselling that will be beneficial to you.

Patient Opinion is an anonymised service. If you would like us to look into your case, please contact the Trust PALS service who will be available to look into your concerns.

PALS tel: 020 8937 7926

PALS email:PALS@beh-mht.nhs.uk

Opening hours: 9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday

To find out more about how PALS can help, please visit our website