Woman’s 23 hours of hospital misery
A woman who went to hospital after two failed suicide attempts was kept waiting 23 hours and had only a five-minute consultation.
Alice Mitchell has anorexia, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
The 19-year-old went to Kent and Canterbury Hospital after suffering a severe relapse which has resulted in suicidal thoughts.
When she turned up she waited four hours before being seen by a nurse for five minutes.
She then waited another six hours before being transferred to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford where she spent another 13 hours to see an on-site professional after being told that if she left staff would call the police.
She eventually saw someone, who was unable to give her any advice and said they would refer her on – but failed to do so.
When Alice, of Barton Road, Canterbury, was later discharged she had no money to get home and her phone battery was flat.
She was told she was not eligible for transport help.
She eventually borrowed a charger and called her mother, who came and collected her.
Alice said: “In 23 hours I had a grand total of five minutes face time with a medical professional.
“For the other 22 hours and 55 minutes I was sitting, completely unsupervised in a busy waiting room where the staff had absolutely no idea I was even there – let alone what my case was.
“I was told that, if I tried to leave, they’d call the police, but because I was unsupervised, I could have walked out and thrown myself under a bus and nobody would have done anything. When I did come to be discharged I felt even more suicidal than I had when I arrived.”
Alice’s ordeal started when she went to hospital on March 13.
Her case has been made public as figures show 169 people (7%) of those admitted to mental health hospitals run by the Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust failed to receive follow-up treatment within seven days of being discharged.
Alice said: “I was given no care plan and no follow up.
“The only thing they did was write to my GP advising her that I should go for an appointment.
“To make matters worse, I’d been for one session of cognitive behavioural therapy but my therapist also decided to discharge me because I’d missed a session while suicidal in hospital.
“Now I’m left without any support from mental health services. I’m back to square one.”
There is growing recognition of the need for more timely follow- up as a suicide prevention measure, with the House of Commons health select committee calling for earlier follow-up.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends follow-up within 48 hours for some patients only.
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