"Typically polite and helpful staff at the Archway Centre, but a few issues"

About: Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health

(as the patient),

I was advised by my GP to self-refer myself to this NHS establishment - as I didn't feel starting anti-depressant medication would fix the long term problem/issues I had, and personally felt counselling would be more appropriate to my needs.

The staff are typically very polite, I easily filled out the self-referral form and handed it in straight away - the staff explained the process, which I accepted and went on my way. However, when the first telephone appointment came about, I was sat by my phone waiting for them to call and received nothing. I left it at least an hour, by which point I called and wondered if something was up. I was told someone had tried to call me but it kept going straight to answerphone - that's fine I said, we'll just have to try again. I was told initially that the person contacting me would try 3 times in a 15 minute time frame and then would close my case if I didn't answer, therefore I took that opportunity to say that I get a VERY poor signal coverage at my home and my landline doesn't accept anonymous calls (to which I offered to be the one to call them on my appointment time - where I was told 'no'). When I called the centre, they said my case had been closed because I didn't pick up the phone and that I would need re-referring. Although I wasn't happy with this system, I obliged and filled in another self-referral form (even though we should be saving paper, they could have just used the same one and put a new date on it as no signature is required! ).

My second appointment came around, but no call came so I called up the centre to make sure I had the correct day! When I gave my details to the staff on the phone, they asked who my appointment was with and I said, "I don't actually know, this is the second appointment I've booked but I've never been told who it is that will be calling me. " To which they responded saying that they always tell people who their appointment is with, otherwise it is a waste of their time when people come in and don't know who they're seeing. The person put my call on hold before I had chance to reply. When we got to the point of my appointment day, the person on the phone told me a different time to what I'd originally been told (however it was the right day) - and by this point they'd already got my back up with their first comment, so I said I'd been told this time and not that time, so had arranged my work lunch break around the appointment (as it's difficult for me to get out of work). To which they replied saying that it was in the book for this time with this person and they only tell people what time it says in the book, and that I couldn't go eating into someone else's appointment time. At this point I was getting annoyed because everything seemed to be my fault and couldn't possibly be theirs - not just the fact that they seemed to be under the impression that I wanted to take up another patients appointment time (not the case! ).

I had said to the person on the phone that I didn't care what was in the book, that I was told a different time and that I had to be back in work shortly, and I was then told that if I couldn't keep the appointment I would be discharged again. This person continued to argue with me, as I had also repeated that on both the appointments I've had, nobody had informed me of who the appointment was with - just the times and days - and the person still felt it necessary to argue with me.

Although the staff have been polite and friendly on all occasions, except this person, I am disgusted with the fact that someone in this industry thinks it's okay to continuously argue with a patient instead of trying to find a resolution. Just because the patients are depressed/stressed, etc doesn't mean that they are weak and incapable of knowing their appointment time and who it's with - lesson to be learned, not all patients are push overs! Patient's aren't always right and yes they are capable of making mistakes, but so are members of staff.

My second issue is with the system, not everyone that want to use this service are on the dole (not that that should matter! ) so a bit of understanding and sympathy towards the fact that people are working wouldn't go amiss. Not everyone wants to and can afford to take time off work.

How hard is it for someone to have a face-to-face counselling appointment? I can understand the need to put someone with an appropriate counselor, but really? Closing their case when the centre had been told on several occasions that the patient has major issues with both mobile and landline?! How hard would it really have been for me to ring the centre and save all this hassle?

I also work for the NHS and sometimes get patients debating their appointment times with me, but I always try to find a resolution when I am on that side of the counter! It made me feel like I was insignificant and 2ft tall...

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

It is very disappointing to read the experiences described when self-referring to our IAPT service in Lincoln. Self-referral is a new process for IAPT and as with any new process sometimes there are initial problems, however the experience described is completely unacceptable and we would like to offer our sincere apologies and an assurance that this matter will be taken seriously to prevent this from happening in the future.

Lincoln IAPT service does operate an out of hours service and offers appointments up to 19.00 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week to accommodate those people referred who are at work during the day. There are processes in place to address the problem of home phone numbers not accepting unknown numbers which do not appear to have been followed in this case.

In order to ensure this is thoroughly investigated we would appreciate if this person could contact Joanne Taylor, Head of Service, Community, directly on 01522 526827 to discuss this further.