"Unable to get through to South Leeds crisis team"

About: Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust / Crisis resolution

Posted by Cam (as a friend),

I and my friend who is based in Leeds and is severe distress, have been trying to call the South Leeds crisis line - and have been greeted by a 'lines are busy - please try later' message.

My friend is schizophrenic, severely distressed and has been self-harming - but she is unable to get through.

She may as well ring Disneyland.

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Responses

Response from Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust on 15/11/2010 at 17:24

My name is Dr Guy Brookes and I am a Consultant Psychiatrist and Associate Medical Director with Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust.

It's very troubling that neither you nor your friend were successful in getting through to our services when she needed them. You are absolutely right to raise this with us – thank you.

Firstly I hope that the situation has now improved and that you have received appropriate help in the meantime. However, I realise that things will have been very distressing for you both at the time even if circumstances have now been resolved.

We are already looking into what happened with the clear intention of ensuring that you and your friend do not find yourselves in a similar situation in the future.

While here, I would also like to give you a couple of other numbers which I'd be grateful if you could pass onto your friend on our behalf, to make absolutely sure that neither of you feel that you will ever find yourselves in this situation again (see below).

At this Trust we pride ourselves on being responsive to the needs of the people who use our services, as well as the families and friends who care for them. Your experience is therefore something that we would like to understand fully.

There could be several possible reasons why you might have found yourselves in this unfortunate position. Therefore I wonder if you would be willing to provide us with more information in order that we can give you the most accurate advice?

(You are, of course, under no obligation to give us any further details, but anything you or your friend do decide to share with us can be done confidentially through the PALS (Patient Advice & Liaison Service) team on freephone 0800 0525 790 or by email to pals@leedspft.nhs.uk)

To explain - our Community Mental Health Teams take referrals according to where in Leeds people live (I noted you said you were in South Leeds) and they provide support Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. Our Acute Community Service in South Leeds has extended opening hours and is open every day of the year. Our Crisis Resolution Team is a city-wide service which provides mental health assessment and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.

Unfortunately from the description of your experience I am not sure which service you were trying to contact at the time. It would be really helpful to know which service you were calling on which number, and at what time of day - in order to offer you the best advice and to assist in resolving your question as quickly and accurately as possible.

As I promised, here are a couple of alternative numbers which may be useful to you and your friend in the unlikely event of a similar situation arising in the future:

NHS Direct are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0845 4647. They also have the facility to contact our Crisis Resolution Team directly when they encounter a mental health crisis.

Outside of the NHS there is an excellent Survivor-Led Crisis Service in Leeds which can offer telephone support every night of the year from 6pm to 10.30pm via their Connect Helpline on freephone 0808 800 1212. They also offer face to face support at Dial House on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 6pm until 2am.

I would like to mention that it would also be completely appropriate for you yourself to contact the Connect Helpline as well as the Crisis Resolution Team, as they are there to support anyone who needs space to talk or requires some emotional support.

I say this because even though you are posting on behalf of your friend, I cannot ignore the fact that ably supporting her through a crisis may have been difficult for you also.

Your friend’s Care Co-ordinator or other mental health professional will also be able to provide her with details of some more specific points of contact that can be useful at times of need in her particular circumstances.

However, whatever the reason you or your friend could not get through to our Trust, I am extremely sorry that you felt without help in your hour of need. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention, as we really value the opportunity to try and resolve all queries that are raised by our service users or their friends or families.

I can assure you that this posting has already been seen by senior managers within Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust and as I said, I would really like to look into this in more detail on your behalf.

So, if either you or you friend would like to get in touch on the PALS freephone number 0800 0525 790 or by email to pals@leedspft.nhs.uk, we would welcome the chance to help further.

Kind regards

Dr Guy Brookes

Associate Medical Director

Adult Mental Health

Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust