Mental health worker’s frustration at lack of support from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
6:30 AM

A mental health worker has revealed how she tried to take her own life during a two-month wait to get an appointment with a community team after she was signed off sick.

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The whistleblower, who has worked for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust for more than four years, suffered her own mental health problems at the start of January.

She said a referral from her GP and contact from NSFT’s new access and assessment team was “really quick” and within two weeks. However, she is still waiting for an appointment to see someone from the community mental health team.

In the period she was waiting to see someone, she made a suicide attempt and ended up in A&E at the start of February. After being deemed physically well enough to leave hospital, she was not seen by anyone from the NSFT crisis team to assess her, she said.

The whistleblower said her condition had worsened as a result of the delays and not a single line manager had been in touch with her since she was signed off.

“My risk has increased and I feel that I’ve had no support and no medication. It is mid-March and I still have not seen my key coordinator. All of this time I have had suicidal thoughts and I am getting worse and worse. Their priority should be getting staff back to work.”

“I’m not off with work-related stress, but I have seen so many staff who are off with work-related stress for long periods of time and there are not enough staff to cover services.”

“Because of their [community team] work loads are so huge, they have other people to prioritise. They suggested the staff counselling service, but they said they are not qualified enough to help me.”

“It hugely concerns me how many other people are out there feeling the same as me and are at high risk of suicide with no support out there. If you had a physical health problem with a high risk, you would not be ignored,” she said.

Andrew Hopkins, acting chief executive of NSFT, said: “We are very sorry that this member of staff feels that the service has not matched her expectations. There have been some delays in getting service users allocated to a care co-ordinator after they have been through Access and Assessment.

“Where this happens, the service user is contacted and seen by another member of the Community Team. We are not aware of this individual’s particular circumstances, but if they contact the trust, we will ensure an appropriate service is provided.

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