Man’s catatonic wife told she isn’t a priority by NHS mental health services

A man who has fought against NHS for decades to get mental health support for his wife has A&E staff told her she was not a priority despite being so ill she was catatonic.

Steve, a 63-year-old from Hertfordshire, has been supporting his wife, who suffers from schizophrenia, for 30 years. and has recalled the “horrible” lack of attention she experienced when she was sicker.

Despite reaching a state of catatonia and becoming a danger to herself, she has been told on multiple occasions his wife was not a priority in the emergency room and there were no psychiatric beds available.

His story comes as a survey of more than 600 people by the charity Rethink Mental Illness revealed that two-fifths of mental health patients reported being told they were not sick enough to access. National Health Service careful.

The charity, which supports people suffering from serious mental illness, also found that 35 per cent of people reported their condition was considered too serious to receive help.

Steve, 63, is his wife's primary caregiver.
Steve, 63, is his wife’s primary caregiver. (Steve W.)

Despite the cost of living crisis, Rethink found that 35 per cent of respondents had turned to private mental health support.

The independent He has published several articles exposing the magnitude of the crisis facing mental health services. what’s wrong with it left some patients waiting more than five days in the emergency roomand patients waiting years to receive care in the community.

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Talking with The independentSteve, who has asked his wife to remain anonymous, has seen her sectioned three times in the last decade and during the second incident said: “She was catatonic again. This was after about three or four weeks of gradual deterioration of her health at her home. The crisis team arrived daily, but she was getting worse and worse.

They had to take her to the hospital because she had started trying to harm herself and she arrived at the emergency room at 8 p.m. However, by 6 a.m. the next day she still had not seen a doctor or undergone a mental health evaluation.

“My wife was catatonic, she had no body control… at half past six I received a message from the doctors in the mental health unit saying that the doctors cannot come to see you because you are not a priority.

“At that moment I realized that the only way for my wife to become a priority because I was taking care of her in the ER would be to leave her alone. So I had to leave, I had to leave her. “I can’t describe the pain of that and how difficult it was.”

According to the Rethink survey, a quarter of people surveyed said follow-up care was lacking, while 35 per cent said the support they received was too brief to be effective.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “This survey reveals the real-life consequences of failing to ensure mental health services have enough resources to meet demand, with people losing their jobs, falling into crisis, They come into contact with emergency services and even attempt suicide while waiting too long for treatment.

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“Significant funding has been brought into the system, along with a clear commitment from NHS leaders, to improve access to care.

“There cannot be a sense of fatalism and a shrug of the shoulders at the poor access to support and treatment for people suffering from mental illness.”

Rethink patient representative Steve said The independent He recently had to threaten to divorce his wife just to prevent the mental health hospital from discharging her without proper support or care.

He said: “The only way I was able to get her the help she needed and defend myself was to actively tell the hospital that if you insist on sending her home, I will have to divorce her.

“It broke me. It’s bad enough seeing his wife go through this and add to that the pressure the health service was putting on my shoulders, it reduced me to nothing. She crushed me.”

“This has left me without any confidence that the health service will care for me as a carer. I feel all this. “I feel totally abandoned.”

And he added: “There are simply no resources available to deal with it. The mental health system is under pressure to the point that it can only cope with the most recent crisis.

“In fact, it doesn’t matter how sick you are. No matter how delusional you are… the last five or six times my wife was admitted to hospital and I was asked for mental health assessments, I was faced with the phrase: there is not a single bed available in Hertfordshire. .”

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