A report into an NHS’s crisis helpline in Hartlepool by the national charity MIND has criticised the services on offer. The watchdog, which conducted the research alongside Hartlepool LINk, described some of the actions of the Crisis Resolution Action Team as “unacceptable”.
The criticisms were made following the discovery that one potentially suicidal caller who contacted them on a weekend was asked to call back later. The report quotes the unnamed caller as saying: “Only recently I had to phone the out-of-hours duty team. I was feeling very low, thinking about the children, in the flat on my own and I thought about ending it all.
“I rang them and they asked me if it was a real emergency. I told them how I was feeling and they said ‘Can’t it wait until Monday?’ I would never phone them in crisis again.”
A second anonymous patient, who was feeling stressed due to noise coming from a neighbour’s house, said: “I walked out Boxing Day and went for a walk down Seaton and I thought about ending it all.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Mind’s senior policy and campaigns officer Alison Cobb said: “Emergency out-of-hours care for people with mental health problems is extremely important. People don’t choose when they become unwell and must be able to access round-the-clock support.
“It is unacceptable for people to be fobbed off or told they must wait until Monday morning as this can have devastating consequences for the individual concerned.”
A spokesperson for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust responded by saying: “We always welcome feedback from the people who use our services and the work carried out by Hartlepool LINk and Mind is very helpful. We received their report in July and were pleased that most of the comments were positive.
“There were occasions where people felt we hadn’t provided the service they would have expected and, although we haven’t received any complaints directly about these issues, we are looking into the concerns that were raised.”