Let’s talk about malpractice – at my local psychiatric hospital

[Found this in my drafts timed and dated 00:50 21/02/17]

Content warning: Suicidal intent, Hospitals, Malpractice

I feel better at home than I did in hospital today, but that’s probably only because of how incompetent that psychiatric ward are. It was the same place that discharged me too early in December, the place that let me walk away whilst I was a massive risk to myself. I could have died that day, I tried to make sure I did. I’m lucky that I didn’t require a large amount of support during this last week’s admission to this ward, and that I was just having a bit of a rest and rehabilitation in a “safe” environment there after a big overdose, because they literally didn’t offer me any support or help and there were no activities or groups to go to.

There was a patient there that they were sending home this morning, who was expressing clear intent to harm herself when she got let off the ward. I questioned the doctor, told her that I was in the same position as that patient back in December, and that the wards’ negligence nearly (and could have easily) led to my death. I warned that the patient really, really didn’t seem OK to go home and that if this happens as often as it seems like it does, they’re going to be directly behind someone’s suicide very soon (if they haven’t been already). The doctor then twisted it around and used my understanding of another patients situation AGAINST me, and said “See, you get too concerned about other patients, this is why hospital isn’t helpful for you.” (She’d accused me of wasting a bed last week when she said that psychiatric hospital admissions ‘clearly weren’t helpful’ for me. I told her outright that admissions to an incompetent ward like this one aren’t helpful, but that I spent three weeks of last month on the ward just next door to this one who genuinely helped me SO much. It’s atrocious, the difference between these two wards that have the same number of bed spaces and the same amount of resources and funding.) And I couldn’t believe what I was hearing- she basically said that my empathy towards the distressed patient was a reason that I shouldn’t be a patient. What, because I’m a human being with capacity and I can see what they’re doing and how they’re mistreating people? I suppose looking at it like that, they have an incentive behind discharging me: I’m too clued up on their bullshit.

I was already in the middle of a formal complaint against this ward after their malpractice in December, so I kept my head very low during this admission. Quiet, observing everything; judging them really, but keeping myself safe and occupied and trying to rest. But I have so much more incentive now to complain and demand answers on how and why they can be so incompetent. I am sickened and shocked by the way in which they practice, and in a weirdly twisted way I’m glad I survived what was a very determined suicide attempt last Monday, because it means that I can maybe ensure – through my serious complaints – that patient care gets reviewed on this ward…In December, not only did they essentially allow me (watched me and let me) abscond from the ward to attempt suicide – They also lost my possessions, they refused to inform my carer (my partner) of my state despite me consenting in writing to him knowing, they made decisions about my care without me, they made changes (reductions and omissions) to my medications without telling me, they refused to involve my partner OR myself in developing my care plan… They even missed a huge part of my diagnoses and as such didn’t treat me properly; if anything they made me more poorly… They fucked up and I was helpless, and they’re doing the same to other helpless patients right now.

This morning I also witnessed the nurse practitioner LAUGH at a patient who was crying and upset and distressed. She made a gesture to the other nurses pointing down the hallway (to where the patient was crying) and she LAUGHED. I felt sick. I wholeheartedly believe that the large majority of nurses are absolute angels but… Not this one. She is horrific.

I (used to / am off sick from) work as a management trainee in the NHS, at this very NHS foundation trust. And the fierce, passionate-about-change version of myself – the determined Rachael that I thought I’d lost in this full blown mental health crisis that has gone on for over 3 months – is definitely coming back out after what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen. If I can’t find reasons to live that are just for me and my life, then I have to find reasons to live for others. And maybe one of those reasons can be so that I can share my experiences of this terrible psychiatric ward and get some changes made. I’m lucky that I now have the capacity to understand what I’ve been through and what the ward have done to me and others – and I need to use that capacity to help those who can’t fight for themselves.

At the time of my writing this, it’s just gone half past midnight and I’m a ball of furious energy. I can’t ignore my anger, and I can’t sleep because I’m worried. As soon as I am physically and emotionally capable of doing so, I need to get to work on formally complaining about this awful practice and ensuring this doesn’t happen to indefinite numbers of vulnerable people.

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident, but if this is happening at an NHS Mental Health Trust that is deemed by the CQC to be a “Good” trust, then I dread to think of the occurrences at hospitals within trusts which have a rating of “Requires Improvement” or “Inadequate”.

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