“Why don’t you do a crossword or something for the next 5 hours?” said the woman who answered the phone to a mental health patient in crisis. The call was made to Emergency services in the wee hours of the morning and the Mental Health Crisis team would come on 5 hours later. This is an excerpt from a CQC (Care Quality Commission) report on Emergency staff attitudes to patients in mental health crisis.
Here are some more observations:
- Judgemental and unsympathetic attitudes of staff towards patients with injuries inflicted on themselves.
- Unsafe, unfair and completely unacceptable level of care.
- “Quite shocking”
- Only one in seven (14%) of the patients surveyed said the care they received provided the right response and helped to resolve their mental health crisis.
- Police and ambulance services were much better at helping them than the key types of NHS teams.
- Increasing difficulty getting patients undergoing a crisis into hospital because of an acute shortage of beds.
- Helpline staff were hanging up on mentally ill patients because they were seen as ‘difficult’ callers.
- They constantly have to explain their circumstances to a chain of professionals because notes cannot be accessed out of hours.
They concluded, “It is clear that there is still a long way to go to make sure everyone is treated compassionately in the right place and at the right time.”
Yes. True. Yet we have been accepting this unacceptable behaviour for decades.
Nothing will change as long as public perceptions don’t.
As long as we, the people, continue to tolerate these intolerably intolerant attitudes, things will stay the same.
Awareness in everyone’s hearts and minds is the answer.
Education. Education. Education.