"Meals and medication"

About: Wishaw General Hospital

(as the patient),

I was a patient in the psychiatry ward about 3 years ago. I was fortunate in that my condition wasn’t as severe as some of the patients admitted and I was able to leave the ward should I have wished.

The experience opened my eyes to the care Mental health patients receive in this hospital. I had never been in that type of environment before and it was heart breaking to witness the lack of proper care mental health patients received.

The ward was very much a ‘Meals and Medication’ ward. There were patients admitted with severe depression who were left to lie in their beds from one day to the next. The only real interaction I noticed was their regular ‘doping up’ with medication. I think mental health patients need motivation and engagement to allow them to try to interact with the world again. The nurses I saw on the ward were simply medicine givers who spent the majority of their time standing at their nursing station talking.

I was surprised to find that most of the patients I spoke with were regular patients. They had been in and out of the ward numerous times. By the time I left, I understood the reasons. I believe mental health patients generally need a combination of medications and correct psychological input, a way of working out their problems. Pill popping is not the answer and it appears to me the reason why so many of these patients are regulars to the ward. There is simply no real time spent on the psychological side of their recovery.

My own experience with a head nurse highlighted this ‘pill popping’ culture. I had been advised by my psychologist and psychiatrist that I didn’t need any medication. I simply needed cognitive behavioural therapy. However, I arrived in my room one evening to this senior nurse waiting on me. I was very clearly and abruptly informed that I would never get better without medication and that I should begin it that day. After politely informing the nurse that I didn’t want or need medication they continued to forcefully pursue their goal in trying to arrange for medication to start. Had I not been a strong enough and mentally aware individual I would probably have given in to them.

The psychiatry ward in Wishaw General wasn’t a nice experience and one that generally those who have no mental health problems will never witness or understand.

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Response from Shona Welton, Head of Patient Affairs, NHS Lanarkshire


I was so sorry to read your posting about your time in the mental health ward at Wishaw General Hospital three years ago. I don't know whether you raised your concerns with us at the time? If not, Maria Docherty, Associate Director of Nursing for Mental Health & Learning Disabilities, would be pleased to speak to you. Maria can be contacted on 01698 858115 or at Maria.Docherty@lanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk.

You may be interested to know that we are in the process of modernising our mental health services. This programme of modernisation includes providing enhanced community mental health services across Lanarkshire - so that people will need to be admitted less frequently and be able to return home sooner - and creating a new Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit. We are also refurbishing our acute inpatient wards.

Thank you for taking the time to post your comments.

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