"Poor treatment in Mental Health hospitals"

About: Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust / Inpatient mental health care

(as the patient),

I have been recieving help from the Community Mental Health team for amost 2 years (since i was 16). it was a long process to get into the system despite seeing the GP on many occasions from the age of about 13 ( i was self-harming, attempting suicide, and barely eating til i lost over a qurter of my body weight). I understand that it is very difficult for teenagers to be given medication or even be taken seriously, but i was offered counselling and this never came. it was only when i was 16 and confided in a teacher at school that i was put into foster care (things at home were bad) and i was referred to the CMHT. I have tried very very VERY hard to get on and live a normal life but failed my A levels as was very unwell and recieving day treatment on th psychiatric ward. when i was 17 i was raped and then miscaarried which was the last straw and i couldnt cope. i was very depressed, ran away and made numerous suicide attempts, until being admitted to hospital as an inpatient. i was in tehre for about 4 months and had my 18th birthday. Looking back at my treatemtn whilst in there, i am appalled...i would sit on my bed in my room all day and cry. There was one nurse who worked nights who all the patients were scared of because she shouted at everyone. i had no apettite and did not eat; when i came out i had lost about 3 stone. No-one really talked to me or looked after me the nurses would sit and gossip and read magazines unless they were approached. Some of the nurses hadnt even read my case notes or didnt know which medication i was taking, so when i woke up screaming in the night from having a nightmare i got told off. it made me feel worse. i tried to run away when my mum phoned one night (she lives abroad and it was her partner who abused me) as i was so upset and felt so alone, and all i got was a telling off from the nurse. When i was discharged, i felt as if nothing had changed i only felt worse. i was on so much medication which wasnt being regularly checked, and within a couple of weeks of being out i overdosed again and ended up in general hospital.

I just feel that if the treatment had been better nad if someone had just cared about me and listened to me then i would have felt more ready to come out (even tho i didnt want to be in there). I tried so hard in there becuase i wanted to be discharged, e.g gettin up in the morning and making myself DO SOMETHING even tho i didnt want to be alive. I was trying very hard but no-one in there was helping me.

i have decided to do things myself now, im at college, have a job and have passed my driving test. but i still struggle but i am reluctant to ask for help as i just feel like a number on a wage slip and not a person. it makes me sad that some people are in and out of these hospitals for years or even their whole lives, as you get institutionalised and coming out is scary. But i worry that without proper treatment e.g. just being left alone, ignored, it may only make people worse.

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Response from Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

We were really sorry to read your comments about the standard of your care in recent years. We always try our very hardest to give people the best care we can and this is reflected in the many supportive comments and letters our staff receive from the people who use our services and their families.

We always welcome comments – good or bad – and will try and learn from them. Everyone is important to us and we want to try to make sure each person feels satisfied with the help we give them.

I want to thank you for taking the time to write down your experiences, something that I suspect was not easy. Unfortunately the comments you make aren’t specific enough for us to take action straight away – as we don’t know which community mental health team or hospital you received treatment from. However, I would urge you to contact me so that we can discuss your concerns in more detail and then, together, decide on the next steps. I want to reassure you that we take any complaint very seriously.

You may wish to know that in recent years we have made considerable improvements to the services we offer and again I would be happy to talk to you in more detail about them, including:

· Dedicated nurse/service user protected time together on the ward

· Improvements to the ward environment

· The activities we offer on the wards

· The Crisis Home Treatment service we offer before and after any admission

· Community teams wider support opportunities

· How we now have our staff working in local General Hospitals to provide Mental Health Liaison services to help support people who, for example, might self harm

Through our forums and user groups we work very closely with people who use our services. This helps improve and develop what we offer. We would welcome your involvement and again, if you contact me, I can tell you more about this. Alternatively, if you prefer, please contact Tina Crosby, our Customer Care Co-ordinator by phone (01202 443160) or email (tina.crosby@dhft.nhs.uk).

Yours faithfully

James Barton

Director of Adult Mental Health Services

Dorset HealthCare NHS Foundation Trust

St Ann’s Hospital, Haven Road, Poole

Telephone: 01202 492033