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"Terrible experience with Liaison Psychiatry"

About: Royal Cornhill Hospital / Liaison psychiatry

(as the patient),

I had assumed the liaison psychiatrist would help me when I was overloaded with adverse events in my life (mine and my family's serious health issues, and my panic in hospital settings due to past trauma). Instead I ended up significantly more distressed as a result of their involvement. Their approach was arrogant, I felt they sneered at me and they definitely didn't take a collaborative approach. But the main problems came to light when I saw my notes and found that, unbeknown to me, they had resurrected 40-year-old mental health information (much of which was wrong and I can prove this) and, without my permission, disclosed all this ancient history to a breast surgeon and my GP. In subsequent letters they made errors, attributed things to me that I didn't say or were the opposite of what I'd said, took scenarios out of context - this always being to my detriment, skewed events such that even my achievements were presented in a negative light, and made many assumptions most of which were wrong. They even managed to convert my happy childhood into a problem. They divulged the most personal information about me - information which I thought would be treated confidentially, otherwise I would never have agreed to the sessions.

I could have understood the odd misunderstanding but there is virtually nothing in their letters that accurately reflects me or the multiple adverse events that I faced. Their assessments are so far off the mark that neither family nor friends recognise me in these. One friend even laughed as they thought it was some kind of joke. It is no joke.

I asked the psychiatrist how I could have been labelled with so many personality disorders given my highly successful career, a happy long-standing marriage and several close friends and social networks. This has never been explained. In fact the psychiatrist didn't even give me the diagnoses - I found out from my notes and had to research what they meant. I was given virtually no opportunity to ask about them and get clarity about the underpinning errors/assumptions.

I held off writing this because I didn't want to make a public statement when it is so negative and I know there are some good, caring people who work in the NHS.  But I feel obliged to let prospective patients know that, on the basis of my experience, regardless of what you say to a doctor, they may write anything in your notes and it will not necessarily be changed even if you have proof of your position or can provide witness testimony. Please do not assume that anything you say will be treated confidentially - it may but, as in my case, it may not. Be careful. I now have a host of errors in my medical records. As a result I am reticent to approach any NHS doctor even for physical conditions despite my having a need. I don't have a problem with having psychiatric labels - I have a problem with having wrong ones.

The inaccuracies and unsanctioned disclosures have really distressed me and they continue to impact my quality of life. And in the meantime, the issues for which I originally sought help have not been addressed. All I've ended up with is even more stress which has now taken a toll on my physical health.

It is too late for me - the damage is done, but in terms of improvements for the future perhaps patients could be given the option of having their sessions audio recorded. If involved with mental health services again, I would certainly probe what they mean by confidentiality and I would ask to see my notes on an ongoing basis. If that had been available to me I would have known there was a major problem at an early stage and stopped the sessions with liaison psychiatry immediately.

You ask how I feel about my care. Well, I think the answer is obvious.  in my opinion It wasn't care I received. It was damage: damage that I feel was delivered in an offensive and disrespectful way. But I appreciate the opportunity to leave feedback and hope it might help someone else.

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Response from Colette Cowie, Interim Lead Nurse, Adult Mental Health, NHS Grampian 6 months ago
Colette Cowie
Interim Lead Nurse, Adult Mental Health,
NHS Grampian
Submitted on 17/02/2022 at 18:16
Published on Care Opinion on 18/02/2022 at 09:02

Dear Fern Leigh,

Thank you for taking the time to share your story, I am so sorry to hear that your experience with Liaison Psychiatry has distressed you and left you feeling more stressed. I am unsure if your accessing support currently and I have listed some options for you that you may wish to consider.

Breathing Space 0800838587

Samaritans 116123 or

In order to look into your experience, please can you contact our feedback and complaint service by email or telephone 0345 337 6338

Once again thank you for the time you have taken to write this feedback and we hope to hear from you soon.


  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Fern Leigh (the patient)

Thank you for your response. The reason I don't consider it helpful is because providing me with the contact details for well-known mental health organisations isn't addressing the source problem which concerns record handling and 'service' issues within NHS Grampian liason psychiatry. It is resolution that will alleviate the stress resulting from this awful experience. I don't believe the organisations you mention are in a position to help effect this so I'm not quite sure why you would think it could benefit me to contact them. I was hoping we could work toward resolution without my having to go down NHS Grampian's formal 'Feedback and Complaints' path but, unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be an option.

Response from Kathryn Kinnear, Service Manager, Inpatient & Specialist Services MHLDS, NHS Grampian 5 months ago
Kathryn Kinnear
Service Manager, Inpatient & Specialist Services MHLDS,
NHS Grampian
Submitted on 21/02/2022 at 09:43
Published on Care Opinion at 11:47

Thank for you for sharing and helping us understand why our first response wasn’t helpful, for which are sincerely sorry.

It can be difficult for us to manage a complaint as serious as this via Care Opinion, and to help find out why things have happened the way they have we would need to look into your story in more detail. This usually involves going through the complaints process, but I understand why it may be helpful for you to speak to someone directly from the service to discuss your concerns first.

We would like to understand your concerns, therefore I would ask you to contact Jane Fletcher, Lead for Inpatient, Specialist Services and CAMHS, via telephone on 01224 557590. Due to hybrid working, this will go through to her PA Kalsoom Yule in the first instance, who will arrange for you both to have a chat.

  • {{helpful}} {{helpful == 1 ? "person thinks" : "people think"}} this response is helpful

Update posted by Fern Leigh (the patient)

Thank you for your response. It is helpful because you offer a contact within NHS Grampian. I can understand what you say about my maybe having to go through the complaints process given the nature of my concerns but, in the first instance, I just wanted someone relevant with whom I could discuss my situation. You have offered this and I appreciate it. I will make contact as per your post. Thank you.

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