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Out and About

Story by

Alea

Date published

7 January 2019

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How it all started

I am physically disabled and have been for most of my adult life. I also have a severe enduring mental health condition. For historic safeguarding reasons I cant access the crisis team and get help when at risk of suicide or when my psychosis gets bad. I live in London in an area where we are told to go to the nearest A&E if in a mental health crisis. There are 3 in the Trust I am under. There are no specialist mental health suites for when people are detained under the mental health act- only A&E's. The same applies if you attend in crisis voluntarily - which is what you are told to do as there is no out of hours crisis care. When you have a mental health condition and call NHS 111 to speak to an out of hours GP you are often blocked by non professional call handlers - in a way that would never happen if there was solely a physical need. When I have had to call I am told that I have to be triaged by paramedics coming to my home to assess me whatever the reason- including when it is not mental health related. Because there is a 'flag' on my notes. In London the police are the emergency out of hours mental health response so if I call NHS 111 to discuss medication for eg the ambulance with police attend my home with all the stigma attached to that. Literally. That is exactly what happened a few months a go and that is the norm. As if I was automatically dangerous and shouldn't be allowed access to a GP like other patients.Not a single A&E in my area has a mental health dedicated area that is accessible for physical and sensory disability. Worse than that there has not been a single accessible disability hospital admission bed in the entire UK in the NHS or private sector for 6 weeks. I am suicidal with voices and it is agreed I need admission but my mental health Trust has only planned for 1 bed to cover a population of 250,000 women. There is literally nowhere for me to be admitted to as the psychiatric system for under 65 yrs does not cater for physical disability. My whole home has been adapted and I need personal care through a package yet cant get even an accessible bathroom in a psychiatric hospital when my life is at risk.So I cant access A&E as I can an have been held sitting up in agony with my walking aids and splints forcibly removed for 'safety' reasons for over 30 hrs at a time. I have to sit and rest on the floor as I cant manage the transfers, In mental health in A&E in any of the 3 hospitals in this area of London there are never any nurses allocated only security staff as the Acute Trust and the mental health trust argue about who funds nurses to support those in mental health crisis in A&E. So security staff are posted to stop you leaving. Untrained usually male staff from a private company . So in crisis If I try ask for help I risk being degraded in a room where I cant get out, whereby there is no call bell, whereby there are no aids, no trolleys or beds to lie down on and whereby there are no nurses to help. This wouldn't be acceptable in non mental health NHS . That there is no provision at all for my physical disability needs has put my life at risk. In mental health there is no choice of provider so I cant choose to be treated in another area - the conditions that apply around this exclude me. Suicide is a very real risk and I cant get help because there is no accessible assessment areas or admission.

What I did to try to overcome it

Formal complaints have been raised after events when damage has already been done. Freedom of Information enquiries have shown that the funding bodies (CCGs) haven't even thought of this and rely on 'assurances; from mental health trusts.It is impossible to assert your rights when in a mental health crisis and where there is no or very limited access to any health care. The Ombudsman has been investigating for 2 years and this includes unlawful detention in A&E. The trauma experienced is off the scale so I wont attend A&E for anything now including chest pain, broken bones, car accidents, anything - because they automatically put you in a mental health area regardless.

How it made me feel

Like scum. Like I shouldn't be alive. Terrified most of the time.

The outcome

Nothing has changed except the situation is now worse than ever due to cuts (that is what the MH Trust say).

Final thoughts

There should be public law test cases to ensure change happens and those with a mental health condition who are also physically disabled or have sensory disability are not discriminated against in this way.

If you've been discriminated against, read how you can positively assert your rights in our Take Action section

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Comments

James Lang 22 January 2019

Very well explained, exactly same, suicide rates rising

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