I’m not sure this is a good idea but then I have a life degree in doing the wrong thing!
Firstly let me stress that all the people within the NHS system that I have spoken to or seen face to face are amazing, the NHS Mental Health system doesn’t just let us (the ill) down it lets their staff down also.
Of course there is more to this story prior to August but I think that is a good place to start.
In August I was in a meeting with a counselor and she took a phone call it was my GP advising he thought I should be referred to a psychiatrist, she agreed and I was referred. I received my first letter from the “Early Access Service” dated 23rd August advising I would be seeing a Doctor on the 29th October. I then received another letter dated 4th September advising my appointment had been brought forward to the 27th September to see a different Doctor, I thought great they must of realised a 2 month wait was ridiculous. Then I received another letter dated 18th September advising my appointment had changed again to the 1st October, I thought oh well it’s still better than the original date so ok. What I didn’t notice until just before the 1st October the letter no longer advised I was seeing a Doctor I was now seeing a Mental Health Clinician.
At the end of the 2 hour assessment the Mental Health Clinician advised he would refer me to see a psychiatrist a medic and some therapy possibly CBT this decision is exactly what my counselor and GP had decided in August! I have no issue with the guy who was now making this decision he was like all the other people I have met in the system very professional and very caring. I will add at this point that the first counselor I saw back in June was also a Mental Health Clinician so it had taken 4 or 5 months to come to a conclusion we all knew back in June.
The day after my appointment on the 1st October I saw my counselor she advised the point of the referral was to see a psychiatrist and a medic she seemed very surprised I had been seen by a mental health clinician. Diplomatically she said It may of been they were trying to get through the back log they had so rather than me seeing a psychiatrist and medic I saw a mental health clinician in the meantime. My belief was this was just a case of being taken off one list and put on to another.
My counselor advised she would contact the hospital and see what was going on. She contacted me the next day and advised I would be receiving a letter saying I was to see a psychiatrist in November and I would also be hearing from elsewhere about therapy, possibly CBT. I was now on my way to being in Secondary care rather than Primary care. Having not received a letter on the 15th October I sent a text to my counselor (who I was no longer seeing because I had now been passed onto secondary care. There appears to be a No Mans Land between primary and secondary care which isn’t helpful) she called me back later that day to advise my appointment would be the 27th November and a letter was sitting on someones desk, they hadn’t had chance to post it out but it would be sent today. My counselor was brilliant, like everyone else I have met and spoken to.
Also on the 15th October I went back to see my GP, he extended my doctors note for another month and increased my medication from 100 to 150mg’s, he spoke about doing this a couple of weeks before, but didn’t want to do it then as I was soon to see the psychiatrist at the end of September and they would make a judgement on my medication at that point (lol).
Just as an aside because my GP had increased the dosage I had to spend another £7.85 for the extra 50mg, having spent £7.85 at the weekend for the 100mg. £15.70 is not a huge amount of money but it equates to 4.3% on that months SSP income of £364.00.
During my appointment with my GP on the 15th October I told him that on Sunday the 13th October I have made the decision to kill myself, I had been having a lie down because the buzzing in my head was driving me mad. I got out of bed and got dressed to go out and throw myself off a car park. This is not a nice subject but it is a fact I have suicidal thoughts all the time but they are just thoughts, this time it was different I had specifically gone out to get it done, but first I had to go and say goodbye to my cats. Spending a little time with the cats calmed me down. I know suicide is not the answer “it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t actually be able to do it but at that point when I left to see the cats it was a horrible scary real plan.
On the 18th October I received a phone call from a local mental health centre, they had received a fax from my GP advising he was concerned about me, again good people within the system doing good things, we spoke for about 40 minutes and during this time I was given a “crisis” number to call. The only time I had used a “crisis” number before unfortunately I called it during the day and it only operates after 5pm so my mistake. I was given another number to call so called it but I couldn’t speak to anyone there because I wasn’t known to them, they gave me another number, I called this number to be entirely honest I cant remember what happened with this number but it was either voice mail, engaged or unanswered, not very helpful!! But this time I had been given a number to call at any time by a very helpful very caring person so I felt good about this number.
On the 25th October I was in a state, feeling really unwell and desperate so I called the number I had been given. I got an automated message advising “the mailbox is full and you cannot leave a message” I don’t think there is a person out there that will think this is acceptable?
On the 21st October I had made a complaint to the Early Access Service Team, in fairness to them they initially responded very promptly, I was advised that someone would call me to discuss the situation. I declined this call and pointed out I wasn’t well enough to receive a call and felt that they knew this and that’s why they wanted to call me because they would be able to walk all over me (probably unfair to think this but that is what my thoughts were at the time). They responded by advising they understood and would write to me. I received their letter on the 11th November, the letter was dated 24th October and the envelope (which I have kept) is date marked 8th November, it would appear it took 2 weeks to post the letter to me!! There is another little story here that I will skip for now, I have written another complaint email and have been advised it is being processed as a “formal complaint”.
Unfortunately this “formal complaint” doesn’t end there, sorry!!
On the 28th October I received a letter from Therapeutic Recovery Services advising me to call them to arrange an assessment for possible further interventions. I called the number on the letter on Tuesday the 29th October, you can only call them Tuesday to Thursday between 8:30am and 12 noon and the letter advises to speak to a specific person. The phone was answered and I asked for the specific person and was advised “I don’t think “name” works here with us”. I couldn’t handle that, a well person would of been able to challenge that response by explaining the letter they had in their hand but at that point I couldn’t. I tried the number another seven times over the next 2 days and it was always engaged. I had now missed that weeks window to call.
On the 5th November I called the number again and asked for the specific person the answer I got was “”name” doesn’t work here”. This time I had more about me, anger, and explained the letter I had. I was advised the specific person worked elsewhere and was given the correct phone number. So I called the new number I now had, there are details in this phone call that for now I don’t want to include, but the basic details being the letter had been sent out by someone else on the wrong letter heading with the wrong number on. Yes, a very basic mistake that anyone could make but on top of everything else not very helpful and indeed a hindrance to my mental health. The outcome of this phone call was I now had an appointment for an assessment on the 11th November. The person I did speak with, eventually, was fantastic very helpful and I received the letter the next day.
11th November I went to my assessment, the lady I saw was brilliant. These people are very good at what they do she managed to get me to talk about things I hadn’t talked about before and realise things I hadn’t thought of before and this is within an hours assessment. Another fantastic professional within a pathetic, not fit for purpose system. We discussed various therapy options and at the end of the assessment she advised she would write to me and recommend I had a certain type of therapy which I was happy about. I then asked “what is the waiting list time” and was told it would probably start in January……. hence the title of this post “You need therapy the queue is 2 months”.
I have complained again, I don’t like complaining and it probably sounds pathetic but it is very difficult to write complaints and make phone calls when not well. i started this post at about 10:30 this morning and it is now 15:36. I don’t want to jump any queues, in fact my Dad has offered to pay for a private psychiatrist appointment, but I believe I have to see this through. This may be me being delusional but I want to do all I can to ensure other people receive better treatment in the future.
The government want people off benefits and in work, I have a job but I am signed off and my SSP runs out at the end of this year at which point I will have to claim for ESA. I don’t want to be on benefits but another one of the governments “systems” is ensuring I will be on benefits for a while.
Thank you for sticking with this post, i’m sorry it goes on and on but I will end it with a simple question…….
Is the above acceptable?
Keep smiling 🙂