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"Degrading Experience"

About: Highly Specialist Services / Specialist psychotherapy services

(as a service user),

Degrading Experience of St. George's Community Health Centre/ Sheffield Specialist Psychotherapy Service

First off I got referred to this service and then discharged after 6 months after not even having an appointment. According the letter I received, I was discharged because I had not responded to an appointment letter, when I called to enquire about this (has I had not received a letter) they refused to talk to me. I enquired with my GP and they had no record of a appointment letter been sent, so the GP referred me again.

Fast forward I don't know how many months, I missed a call (whilst at work) from this service. So I called back, the person (can't remember his name) I spoke to was lovely and informed me that I am now on a waiting list and due to Covid-19 things were taking a bit longer however I should receive an assessment in around 16 weeks. I also explained that I have severe anxiety and will not an answer phone calls from unknown numbers but will respond to voicemails, emails and texts. The person understood this and said they'd make a note on my record of this so they knew to contact me by one of these methods.

So after the battle I had to even begin to get an appointment, my experience of calling to respond to a letter was degrading and rude. I received a letter stating that the team had tried to contact me on several occasions but with no success, however no-one had left me a voice mail, text or email (like I'd requested).

I called St. Georges and explained to a staff member what the letter said, the response was unfriendly and they reluctantly forwarded my call onto the secretary to try and find a solution. After waiting on the phone for a good few minutes, the secretary finally answered. They were also unfriendly and were acting like it was a big inconvenience that I called and it was as if they couldn't wait to get me off the phone. I apologised several times about missing calls and explained that when I last spoke to someone, they agreed to put on my record that I don't answer unknown numbers and to leave a message. The Secretary repeatedly said this didn't matter and that the assessment appointment I could have had was now gone, I said I understood this. However they really rude about and kept complaining that they had tried to contact me.

The secretary (who didn't and wouldn't give me their name) asked who my support worker was and I explained I didn't have one, this was met with a rude and unkind response, they also asked who managed me when I was in crisis, I explained that I only had a GP and no-one that supports me. They coldly asked if I still wanted their service, and I said if possible please (I thought I'd been took off the waiting list), they snapped "I suppose that's a yes then". The secretary sighed and acted like it was an inconvenience to keep me on the waiting list, and rudely said they'd try to find me another appointment (after again reminding me that they'd tried to call me before and the appointment I could have had was now gone) and then call me back (I'll be surprised if I get a call back).

I also had a few questions to ask but I gave up trying as the rude, unkind and frankly unprofessional manner put me off trying and I was made to feel like I had to end the call because I was an inconvenience and wasn't worth the time especially because I didn't have any other support teams and I had asked for some help.

This phone call was horrible and has now left me very anxious and paranoid about using the service. I really hope the mental health teams aren't like this and that this was just a badly trained Secretary (if you're answering the phones for mental health services, you really need to be aware that the patients may be anxious when they call).

I would formally complain however I can't without their names, and when I've complained about the mental health services and their staff before I've just received a fake apology and a promise of it won't happen again however it does.


Response from Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust 11 months ago
Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust
Submitted on 21/08/2020 at 13:10
Published on Care Opinion at 13:31

Dear Nanook

First of all, thank you for sharing your story.

I appreciate how difficult it can be to share such difficult experiences. I am very sorry that you have been left feeling so disregarded and unsupported by our service.

This is certainly never a way that we would ever want someone who reaches out to our team to be left feeling.

We take your observations very seriously and we will discuss with the team about what has happened.

We want to try and resolve this for you and ensure that you get access to the support you are seeking.

I understand that this sort of incident can have a very damaging effect on your confidence in trusting a service, and we need to try and work through this with you.

If you like to speak to a senior member of a team please contact Joe Curran, Consultant Adult Psychotherapist/Clinical Lead, on 01142716352.

Please bear in mind Joe is currently away and will be back on 1st September.

Thank you again for raising this with us.

Kind regards.

Mark Parker

Deputy Associate Director

Scheduled and Planned Care – Specialist Services

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