"Appalled by care from Harrogate mental health unit and crisis team"

About: Tees, Esk And Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust / Crisis resolution Tees, Esk And Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust / Inpatient mental health care

(as a relative),

My sister was brought into Harrogate hospital by ambulance after presenting as suicidal and psychotic. She was then taken onto the Cedar Ward which is where I saw her the next day.

I went to visit her and was appalled at her state. My sister has always struggled with mental illness all her life but when she is well she is a lovely bright bubbly engaging person. I saw her sat in a dark room, in a state of distress and still presenting as suicidal. She spoke of being eaten alive by demons, and of starving herself so she could find a safe place to die. She also wore a strange hat which she called her Generals hat as she was fighting a war against the system. All this clearly paranoid delusions as a result of a mental crisis. I asked her if she had been given any medication and she had not. So she had been left in this state for over 24hrs. I asked her what help she HAD received and she informed me she had met with the doctor and other staff at a meeting, she informed me that the questions they asked her only made her cross so she walked out of those meetings. The staff informed me later than due to her being unwilling to engage there is very little they can do to help her which to me is appalling…. considering if someone believes in demons and wants to die that them being difficult to deal with and unwilling to engage simply as another manifestation of mental decline.

I took her off the ward due to the fact she had NOT eaten anything and she has previously years ago been anorexic and did not want to encourage those symptoms again as she spoke of self-starvation. I took her to the shop and she was paranoid and distressed and spoke of running away. I took her back to the ward for a short time. During this visit not one member of staff came to speak to me about my sisters care or even paid any attention to the fact I was there. I asked a staff member if my sister could walk me out to my car and they were confused and initially did not know, they then said no…which is odd considering no staff questioned or cared when I had taken her out to try and get her to eat 1/2hr beforehand.

I visited my sister the very next day to find she had been discharged. I was completely flummoxed by this. Basically I was informed she had discharged herself after an altercation with another patient. I asked what happened and they told me that my sister had assaulted another patient, then blamed the staff then stormed out. I asked if she had taken her meds with her and they said no. I asked if she had taken her house keys/phone/inhaler and they said no, she had left without all those items. I asked if she had eaten and they said no. I asked wether she had, had any medication and they said one dose of anti-psychotics. They told me my sister was not detainable and had been been unwilling to engage with staff. They told me she would do better in her home environment with help from community mental health team. I asked when they would be seeing her and they did not know.

I then found my sister wandering around the hospital with a hospital towel, in distress, in tears, still suicidal and haven not eaten anything. She ended up in the back of my car shivering and delusional wrapped in a hospital blanket.

I went back to the cedar ward and asked to speak to a senior nurse. The person I spoke to was particularly patronising towards me and my concerns. They told me that my sister was not detainable and would do better at home with the community mental health team, when I asked this staff member particulars about this ‘home care’ they were very vague and did not seem to know. I asked about the incident where my sister assaulted another patient. The staff member told me that my sister's behaviour was unacceptable and that she had turned around and said to them ‘ this is all your fault’, I told the staff member that this did NOT sound like the actions of someone who is sound of mind and that my sister would never normally behave this way, the fact that she was confrontational and borderline violent is very concerning for us as a family due to it being so out of character, I told the staff member that my sister was in my car delusional and suicidal and the staff member said that sheneeded to take responsibility for her own care and her own actions.

I am sorry but I feel that is absolute rubbish coming from someone who is meant to be a professional with an unbiased viewpoint on patients. My sister had obviously been a nuisance and difficult for them so they released her without proper care, without medication and STILL wanting to die and STILL could not give me any details on my sister’s after care. So I had to collect my sisters belongings and take her home. My sister sat in the back of the car and rambled about dyeing and about demons. I took her to try and get her to eat and I struggled to detain her in public. My sister threw her food up all over herself.

I took my sister home and called the GP and explained all of the above story to them. They were just as appalled as I was so I called the crisis team who told me they would send someone tomorrow to see her. The next day came with nothing from the crisis team and I had to watch my sister vomiting any food or medication into her bin, also had nothing from the ‘community mental health’ team that the hospital had assured me would be in contact. I called the crisis team again and they appeared annoyed by my call and said they would come out tomorrow! So, they had lied to me about coming out that day and told me that they would come out tomorrow when really I need help today.

I am by no means a mental health professional, or a doctor, or a carer, or sufficiently trained to deal with what I had to deal with and I feel frustrated and angry at the lack of real emergency care for those suffering with mental health. This frustration must have been felt tenfold by sister who was battling demons whilst being told they could not help and released after being taken to hospital where she thought she would get help. I called the hospital and asked to speak to a senior member of staff to make a complaint, they said someone would call me back, funnily enough I never got that call. No wonder she ended up shouting at staff and assaulting someone! Not that I am justifying her actions.

I wish there was more support and help out there for families and suffers of mental health, and I wish there was more empathy and understanding than we have been shown. I am sorely disappointed with my sisters and my own experience with the Cedar Ward and staff at this hospital. I will be sending this to other sources also as I feel not enough is said about the failings of such services.


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


Response from Corinne Aspel, Lead Senior Nurse – Patient Experience, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Sarah

Thank you for taking time to provide your feedback regarding your sister’s time on Cedar Ward at The Briary Wing. We are very sorry to hear that you have not had a positive experience of this service.

We want to reassure you that your comments have been forwarded to the Head of Service of that locality for a response, which will be posted on Patient Opinion once received.

As an organisation we welcome all feedback and your honesty and openness regarding your sisters’ experience is very much appreciated.

We would welcome the opportunity to look into this further on your behalf, and would encourage you to contact the Lead Nurse Patient and Carer Experience Corinne Aspel on 01913333566 or by e mail corinne.aspel@nhs.net.

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

Response from Matthew Thompson, Patient Experience Team, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Sarah

Further to our initial response we would like to reassure you that we take all comments seriously and have looked into the matters which you raised in more detail with the services involved. We apologise that you did not find your conversations with nursing staff on Cedar Ward helpful and for any distress or inconvenience that you or your sister may have experienced from the brief crisis admission to this Ward.

It would be difficult and not appropriate to provide a more detailed response to the issues you have raised on this forum without breaching confidentiality and we would again encourage you to contact us in order for us to provide a more personal and direct response.

Should you wish to do this please contact Lead Nurse Patient and Carer Experience Corinne Aspel on 01913333566 or by e mail corinne.aspel@nhs.net.

Alternately you could contact the PALS and Complaints Team on 0800 052 0219 or email tewv.pals@nhs.net

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

Recently read