‘I’m trying to keep her alive’ - mother’s agony as daughter left without support

The mother of a teenage girl who attempted suicide after being left without mental health support d

The mother of a teenage girl who attempted suicide after being left without mental health support during lockdown has criticised the trust for lapses in her care. Photo: Liz Wormald - Credit: Archant

The mother of a teenage girl who attempted suicide after being left without mental health support during lockdown has criticised the trust for lapses in her care.

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer. Picture: NSFT

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer. Picture: NSFT - Credit: Archant

It came after a mother who lost her son to suicide challenged the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) over young people in crisis being left waiting without safety plans.

And followed the trust’s admission that “we need to do more” to improve services for children and young people.

In May, the region’s mental health service, which has previously been dubbed the worst trust in the country, apologised after sending a letter to more than 300 young people telling them they were taking them off the waiting list because of coronavirus.

READ MORE: Mental health services expect 20pc rise in demand due to Covid

And the blunder followed an inspection by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which saw its youth centre at 80 St Stephens Road in Norwich slammed by inspectors.

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The trust said the issues were not linked.

But following a board meeting, held on Thursday, July 16, parents have criticised NSFT for leaving children without support during the pandemic, as one mother spoke of her fear for her daughter as she tried “to keep her alive”.

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The trust said they had spoken to the woman about her concerns and were committed to making improvements.

Liz Wormald, 39, said her 15-year-old daughter Holly was left without support from the trust during lockdown, after using the services for two years, first with CAMHS and now the youth team.

Ms Wormald, from Lowestoft, said: “ The communication from NSFT and the way some staff conduct themselves is not good.

“With Covid-19 my child hasn’t been going to school which has obviously had an impact.

“I had to ring up to find out what was going on and find out my daughter had been discharged.

“She doesn’t sleep very well, she has suicidal ideation - they said we don’t call it depression in under-16s, we call it low mood.”

READ MORE: Mental health service sends letter to 300 young people removing them from waiting list

And Ms Wormald said issues with her daughter’s mental health escalated to the point where she tried to take her own life, and had to be stopped by paramedics.

“It’s been a nightmare,” she said. “Her being discharged from hospital was really scary for me.

“I felt a big responsibility to keep her safe. Where is the support for families? There’s no other support.”

And she said the lack of communication from the trust had “caused anxiety and tension between me and my child”.

She said her daughter had no care plan during lockdown.

“The emergency care plan is to take her to the hospital,” she said. “That’s not good enough. There nothing on paper.

“It’s scary for the child, never mind the parent. I’m just trying to keep her alive.”

Mason Fitzgerald, deputy chief executive at NSFT, said: “I was very sorry to hear about Ms Wormald and her daughter’s experience. I have spoken with Ms Wormald to listen to her concerns and have been looking into the issues she has raised.

“We are committed to improving the service we offer to children and young people and are putting in place changes which will, I believe, bring about the improvements that our local communities deserve.”

READ MORE: Mum to launch mental health charity in memory of much-loved son and gym owner

During the trust’s board meeting, Sue Wilgoss, whose son Danny Wilgoss took his own life in 2018, asked the trust why young people had been left without care.

She said: “It’s sad to hear, again, young people being discharged when still at high risk.

“You say about learning from this - what has been learned from my son’s death two years ago as we keep hearing the same sad stories? “During lockdown we’ve heard disturbing stories in Waveney of young people waiting so long for support, including those in crisis repeatedly, with no safety plans in place while waiting.”

Dr Dan Dalton, chief medical officer at NSFT, said: “I can only imagine how difficult it is to be reminded of your loss.

“We are working really hard to make sure that people who are waiting for our services are kept safe which does include a review of all of the young people by our clinical director.

“Despite this, we need to get better at making decisions with the people who use our services, so nobody feels they don’t have a choice about their own care. I do appreciate this is scant comfort to people who are having to wait now and we are really sorry.

And commenting ahead of the board meeting, Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer, said: “We are showing small improvements.

“We need to do more and we have a plan to do that.”

READ MORE: SPECIAL REPORT: ‘Failed and forgotten’ - are a generation of our children being let down?

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