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More than a statistic

Let’s play the blame game

Who can I blame for not getting sufficient care after asking for help?

by Matt Coot

In the UK, one in four people experience a mental health problem each year. Statistics continue to show, however, that we have over ONE MILLION adults who are not receiving treatment for their mental health conditions. This is a terrible statistic. Can we really allow this to continue?

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In Cornwall, where I am from and where I am writing this blog post, there is a shocking statistic that 16 in every 100,000 people take their own lives. This is one of the highest suicide rates in the UK. In their latest Suicide Statistics Report 2017, the Samaritans state that 6,639 people committed suicide in 2015. The statistical trend for suicides in the UK was falling over time, until 2007 when the numbers of suicide started to rise.

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There have been three times when I was almost one of these statistics. In August 2011, I had a period of psychosis and threatened to throw myself off a bridge. In August 2017, I took an overdose of prescription medication. In January 2018, I had enough sense to go to the A&E department at Derriford Hospital to ask for help because I was a risk to myself. I have an unstable mental health condition that sometimes drives me to the brink of suicide. But what is being done to help me?

Following both of the actual attempts on my life, in August 2011 and August 2017, I was under the care of the Home Treatment Team. These are community psychiatric nurses (CPN) and social workers who came to my home and tried to help in my recovery. They visited frequently over a short period of time. In addition to this, I am under the care of the Community Mental Health Team.

From the summer of 2016 until December 2017, I had a CPN assigned to me as my care co-ordinator. He visited frequently to guide me with strategies that allowed me to be able to cope, but also acted as my advocate at the community mental health team to ensure the correct treatment was going to happen. He left his job in December 2017. I was told that I would be assigned another CPN as soon as possible. It is now February 15th 2018, and I still haven’t been assigned another CPN. I have been left adrift without support.

During my admission to A&E on 2nd January 2018 (or, rather, early morning on the 3rd), I was assessed by the on-call psychiatrist. He contacted the Community Mental Health Team to say that I needed urgent care. A few days later, I had an assessment with the on-call CPN. This CPN said that I was now a high priority to be assigned a new CPN and to start on a type of therapy called Emotional Coping Skills. He also said that my rescheduled appointment with my psychiatrist shouldn’t take too long. You see, in December, I had a scheduled appointment with my psychiatrist, but this was postponed because the psychiatrist heard that my uncle had passed away and thought it would be the wrong time to have an appointment. Make sense of that, if you can. Anyway, since that appointment with the on-duty CPN, I have heard nothing. Two weeks ago, following an appointment with my GP, I made contact with the Community Mental Health Team. I was told that nothing had yet been progressed and if I didn’t hear anything within a month to call back again.

On 2nd January, I walked into the A&E department of Derriford Hospital and stated that I was a risk to myself. A few days later, I told a CPN at the Community Mental Health Team in Liskeard the same thing. One month later, I am told to wait another month for something to happen. Anyone else think that this is ridiculous?

I don’t blame the psychiatrists, the nurses, or my GP. I don’t blame those who are trying their best to help me. I was told today, by my GP, that it wasn’t personal, but rather an organisational problem. She was right, it is an organisational problem, but this organisational problem turns personal when I am ignored when I need the help most.

Who is to blame? Perhaps the following people should take some responsibility for their actions:

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The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

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The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

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The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP

These are the people who are in charge and, therefore, these are the people responsible for the ridiculous system that ignores people who beg for help. These are the people who are responsible when sixteen in 100,000 people in Cornwall commit suicide. These are the people responsible for one million people not receiving treatment for their mental health issues.

When will people learn that the Conservative Party do not care? They are selling off the NHS bit by bit. The Prime Minister couldn’t even deny it during a recent Prime Minister’s Questions. They are underfunding the healthcare system, then pretending like we can’t afford the NHS whilst they are trying to sell it off. This is leading, not only to this dreadful state of the mental health care, but also all areas of healthcare. We are at crisis point and it is the fault of the Conservative Party. But don’t let it just be me telling you this, what about Professor Stephen Hawking:

“The crisis in the NHS has been caused by political decisions. The political decisions include underfunding and cuts, privatising services, the public sector pay cap, the new contract imposed on the junior doctors and removal of the student nurses’ bursary. Failures in the system of privatised social care for disabled and elderly people has also placed additional burden on the NHS.”

“Speaking as a scientist, cherry picking evidence is unacceptable. When public figures abuse scientific argument, citing some studies but suppressing others, to justify policies that they want to implement for other reasons, it debases scientific culture. One consequence of this sort of behaviour is that it leads ordinary people not to trust science, at a time when scientific research and progress are more important than ever, given the challenges we face as a human race.”

“We must prevent the establishment of a two-tier service, with the best medicine for the wealthy and an inferior service for the rest. International comparisons indicate that the most efficient way to provide good healthcare is for services to be publicly funded and publicly run. We see that the direction in the UK is towards a US-style insurance system, run by the private companies, and that is because the balance of power right now is with the private companies.”

“When politicians and private healthcare industry lobbyists claim that we cannot afford the NHS, this is the exact inversion of the truth. We cannot afford not to have the NHS

– Professor Stephen Hawking, August 2017

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Stephen Hawking is a genius. He is one of the most intelligent human beings on this planet. Who did he blame? The politicians.

A while ago, I contacted my local MP to ask for help. I said that we should put aside politics and strive for more support for our NHS services.

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I asked her for answers and for help. My local MP is a Conservative politician called Sheryll Murray. She replied with cherry picked statistics.

To Sheryll Murray, Theresa May, Jeremy Hunt, Philip Hammond, and everyone else who uses statistics in an answer for why the help isn’t there when it is most needed: I am more than a statistic.

Then again, what do I know? I’m just one in four.

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