"An appointment with a member of the liaison psychiatry team left my friend more distressed"

About: Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust / Liaison psychiatry Leeds General Infirmary

(as a friend),

My friend had an appointment with a member of the liaison team. I thankfully visited her after this and was astonished to find her very upset.

She didn't want to give me full details but did say that the appointment had been very difficult and that she had felt very little point in being there.

My friend is very scared of men and has asked to see a female doctor, a request which has been refused for no good reason as far as I am aware.

I don't want to go into too much detail as she wouldn't want me to and doesn't know i'm writing here, but I had to as this treatment is not acceptable.

A person should not be this distressed after an appointment!

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Response from Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

My name is Dr Peter Trigwell and I am Associate Medical Director for Specialist Services, which incorporates Liaison Psychiatry.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I was very sorry to read about your friend’s recent experience and completely understand the concern you feel as a result of her increased distress.

Sometimes people do find appointments difficult or upsetting, and there are a number of reasons why this can happen but we would absolutely not want to cause any of our service users undue stress or distress, as providing compassionate, safe care is one of our core values.

From what you have written I can’t be absolutely sure which part of the Liaison Psychiatry service your friend has been in contact with or which clinician she saw. Having said that, whatever element of our service your friend came into contact with, I first of all want to apologise that the contact she had appeared to increase her level of distress.

None of the liaison psychiatry team would ever wish to cause anyone any additional or any unnecessary distress, and would always want to provide our service in such a way as to make the contact people have with us feel positive. This has clearly not been the case on this occasion, for which I apologise on behalf of the service.

One of the particular points that you have mentioned is that your friend is frightened of men and asked to see a female doctor. We would always wish to do our very best to accommodate any request for a gender specific clinician, and I am not sure why that was not possible on this occasion.

It is difficult for me to know because I am not aware as to what request was made and how it was made before the appointment, but I am concerned that your friend saw a male member of staff when she was going to find that very difficult.

We will take serious note of the concerns you have raised and make sure that what you have identified is discussed and addressed within the service, to make sure we do our best to avoid such difficulties in the future. If you want to contact me to have a conversation about any of this you should please feel free to do so and I will make sure that my contact details are included below.

As I am sure you will appreciate, the confidentiality of people who use our services is of paramount importance, and so I can not disclose any details of your friend’s care without her express consent. Of course it goes without saying that the offer to discuss this matter with me extends to your friend as well.

I hope that I have been able to reassure you that our approach is always to try to accommodate people’s requests, and that all members of the liaison psychiatry team will be concerned to hear that this contact was difficult for your friend.

If you prefer not to disclose this post to your friend, you could tell her about PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service), who deal with matters similar to this on a regular basis. Every NHS Trust has a PALS team so you would not necessarily need to mention that you had contacted us.

The PALS team would give your friend a space where she can talk about the appointment in confidence, and they would then liaise with the team on her behalf. PALS can be contacted on 0800 0525790 or at pals.lpft@nhs.net.

It’s not clear from your post whether this was a one-off assessment appointment, or one of a series. If your friend has further appointments it should be possible for her to have someone there to support her.

Should she not feel comfortable speaking in front of someone she knows, there is a free, confidential advocacy service at http://www.advocacy4mentalhealth-dementia.org.uk/. The PALS team can also give you or your friend more information about these options.

Thanks again for bringing this to our attention and do feel free to contact me about this if you wish to do so. In closing, I also want to say that I hope your friend is feeling better now and that the appointment, although difficult for her, was a step on the road to her recovery.

With best wishes

Dr Peter Trigwell

Consultant in Liaison Psychiatry

Associate Medical Director for Specialist Services

Leeds Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 0113 3925246