"Total lack of Care for Mentally ill Patients by..."

About: Royal Berkshire Hospital

Our relative had been ill previously with mental health problems and due to a change in medication was again becoming ill. We took our relative to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Royal Berkshire Hospital for help. On arriving at the Hospital we saw a nurse who booked our relative in and immediately said that she knew our relative from the previous time and fast tracked our relative to a patient room. We were then seen by a very polite and understanding doctor who explained that our relative could either be sectioned by the hospital or go as a voluntary patient to Prospect Park and we were left us to discuss this with our relative. During this time our relative was extremely agitated and shouted etc. This was difficult for us and we waited outside the room for the doctor to return. At this time the same nurse who had booked our relative in came from her room which was some way away around the corner and spoke outside the room to another nurse there. There were many other patients around and she said to her colleague in earshot of us and a number of other people, patients and relatives, that she knew our relative and had seen our relative the previous time. She continued to say that our relative was aggressive then and the only way they could deal with our relative the previous time was to book a taxi, get our relative outside so they could be arrested by the police if they did not go to Prospect Park Hospital voluntarily and this is what had happened then. The nurse continued to say that was what maybe should be done this time - she said if the door was left open, our relative could be let out and then they could get them arrested again outside the hospital and go direct to Prospect Park Hospital. This was totally unacceptable and shocking to say in front of us and others there and although our relative was obviously not the easiest person to deal with at that time, they were clearly ill and needed help. It showed a total lack of dignity, care and respect by the booking in nurse for what was clearly a mentally ill patient. Further I am concerned that if this is the general process followed by the Royal Berkshire Hospital for mentally ill patients, it shows a total lack of duty of care and respect and could actually endanger lives of them and others. This is a disgrace. We subsequently took our relative to Prospect Park Hospital ourselves as a voluntary patient.

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Response from Royal Berkshire Hospital

Thank you for raising these concerns. We take all complaints very seriously and share them with the staff in order to learn from them and to improve care for future patients. We understand that a matron for the Emergency Care Unit has spoken with you regarding your relative’s attendance to the Emergency Department (ED). The matron has spoken to the nurse involved who would like to express her regret on the way the situation turned out. She now appreciates that she should not have discussed your relative’s details or condition in such a public area and is very sorry that this happened. The nurse has been made aware of the correct referral processes to the Mental Health Services and the police. The nurse has said that she has learnt from the concerns that you have raised and is very sorry for the unacceptable and distressing experience that you and your relative experienced. We would also like to reassure you both that, if your relative does need to return to the ED, they will be treated with dignity and respect. If you wish to discuss your concerns further, please either contact the matron you spoke with or the Patient Relations Team, by email to ‘talktous@royalberkshire.nhs.uk’, or by telephone on 0118 322 8338.

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