"Our daughter is still waiting for a CBT appointment"

About: Tees, Esk And Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust / Child and adolescent mental health

(as a parent/guardian),

Our daughter was referred to CAMHS in Darlington before Christmas 14. She had her first appointment just after Christmas. At the end of this first consultation she was dismayed when the counsellors asked if she was going to throw herself under a train. Talk about putting the idea in someone's head! Her appointments we VERY hit and miss - she even turned up to one appointment to be told that she wasn't in the diary!

My wife took our daughter to see her GP in January and he pulled up a letter from CAMHS saying that our daughter was to start a programme of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Finally she was admitted into hospital following an overdose. We were told by the staff in A&E (who were all VERY good) that someone from the CAMHS Crisis team would come and visit her that day. Well 24 hours later they finally appeared to see our daughter who by this time had been admitted to the ward.

To say feckless is probably giving the CAMHS nurse too much credit. I feel she wasn't the slightest bit interested in anything we had to say about how our daughter had been. Instead, all she could say was she was confident our daughter wouldn't do it again. We asked if she had seen the notes detailing what she had told the Dr who came to see her once she had been admitted on to the children's ward stating that she had said she wanted to kill herself. She clearly wasn't the slightest bit interested instead she seemed in a hurry to get to wherever she was going next. We told her that our daughter was clever enough to tell her exactly what she wanted to hear so that she would be discharged from hospital. (Something our daughter has since admitted to us that she did! ). Disgusted and infuriated was an understatement of how we felt.

She ended up seeing a whole array of different people so a total lack in consistency. Finally, she was told by her 'supposed' counsellor (the one she was meant to be seeing regularly) that she was leaving the service and she would get an appointment in the post as she had placed her as a priority. If it was a priority it still took two weeks and a phone call to get an appointment sent out. Unfortunately she wasn't able to make the date because she had just started a new job which was itself proving to provide some form of therapy! So our daughter was told that they would send out another appointment in the post. Something which we are still (nearly two weeks later and having made another phone call) waiting for. We cannot comprehend the effectiveness of this ridiculous system of taking weeks to send out appointments by post. Particularly when we are talking about serious Mental Health Issues. Why can't they make the appointment over the phone? Has she started the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that she was supposed to in January? NO!

You turn on the TV and read about the state of Young People's Mental Health Services to read that they are inadequate. Well Darlington's certainly lives up to that expectation in our experience! Will see if an appointment comes in the post next week. If it does, then they will probably have made it for the day of our daughter's exams! One piece of advice we were give was that if there was in incident between certain hours (something like 8. 30-5pm) then we could contact the crisis team if it was outside these hours then we would have to take her round to A&E. They do not have a clue! If they did, they would know and understand that it would be extremely dangerous to put someone in that state of mind in a car and drive anywhere! I did tell them that in no way would I be doing that due to the danger but would be instead phoning for an ambulance and that I was horrified that they would even suggest that to parents!

We hear regularly of others in the area who have had similar experiences with CAMHS but who haven't been as fortunate as we were to intervene in their child's suicide attempt before it became a reality. Do these people actually care? - something which our daughter has said herself -'they're not interested in me'. It is sad to have to say, we completely agree with her.

Disgusting service! It needs a complete shake up as the wake up calls it seems to get, just don't seem to make the difference!

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


Response from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust We have made a change

We are sorry for the delay in responding to your concerns as we wanted to allow the teams involved to consider this feedback in order to respond to the issues you have raised.

The Darlington CAMHs team are sorry and disappointed by your family’s experience of our service. We are also sorry for the confusion about the appointment frequency. We have discussed this feedback as a team and are working very hard to ensure that no other family experiences this. We have taken steps to monitor cases more closely to ensure that families are reviewed frequently and that communication is maintained during any changes to the care provided.

We also apologise for the short notice of the staff member leaving the service however this was unforeseen. We endeavour as a service to be efficient so this experience is disappointing. If a family rings up to change an appointment, our staff will be able to offer an alternative on the same telephone conversation.

The Trust is committed to providing quality services and we would have liked to investigate and respond personally to you on the issues you have raised. If you contact PALS staff on the freephone 0800 052 0219 they can advise on the options to do this.