Former Millbrook patient raises concerns about the standard of care
A former patient has spoken out about her experiences of the area’s mental health services and has raised concerns about the standard of care.
Carol Rogerson from Kirkby-in-Ashfield has described a catalogue of events during her stay on the Lucy Wade Ward at the Millbrook Mental Health Unit that left her feeling ‘unsafe’, and ultimately led to her feeling it was necessary to discharge herself, despite still feeling unwell.
A Care Quality Commission inspection took place two weeks later on February 12 and rated the Lucy Wade Ward’s care quality as ‘inadequate’ and raised ‘serious concerns about safety and the quality of the care provided to patients'.
A spokesperson for Millbrook has said they are ‘very concerned’ to hear about Mrs Rogerson’s experiences.
Carol said: "The whole place felt dysfunctional and I felt unsafe – there were some really unwell people that required close supervision and it often left more than 10 of us without any staff to speak to if we had a problem.”
The CQC inspection of the ward stated in their findings: “We had serious concerns about safety and quality care provided and, therefore, served a Notice of Decision which required the trust to stop all admissions to the ward until further notice.
“Whilst we saw that staffing levels for each shift met the required ‘safe staffing numbers’ for the number of patients on the ward, we were not assured that enough staff, with the right skills, knowledge and experience were deployed to meet the needs of the patients safely.”
Carol’s diagnosis stems from historical abuse, and suffers severe flashbacks due to post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic depression, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome and she describes a number of incidents during her stay which led to her eventual discharge.
She continued: “Night times were awful - care assistants slept while patients were in distress – we all felt really isolated.
“There were times when I was in agony, but they were unable to give me the medication I required as it needed two members of staff to dispense.
“They said they were ‘too busy’ and I had to beg for them to take my pain seriously.
“They made mistakes with my medication, giving me lower doses than I needed, refused my loperamide which left me with agonising diarrhoea, and did nothing when my belongings were stolen.”
The CQC report found similar incidents of ‘medication not being administered due to lack of staff’ and that ‘staff attitudes and behaviours when interacting with patients were not always respectful, discreet and did not always provide patients with help and emotional support at the time they needed it’.
Carol alleges she was told that she was not a priority because she was ‘not kicking off’ which left her feeling frustrated – meaning her husband, Pat, often had to intervene on her behalf.
He explained: “She would ring me in tears, or I would find her in an agitated state and I had to demand they listened.
“We tried to raise concerns with management – they were always apologetic but ‘too busy’ to deal with it.”
The couple described some staff as being ‘lovely’ but that others ‘did not seem to care’.
Mr Rogerson continued: “The system is supposed to make patients feel better, not unimportant and subhuman.”
“It feels like a failing containment facility, rather than somewhere for people to receive treatment to feel better.”
Carol eventually discharged herself for her own well-being and a formal complaint was made to Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
In a letter to the family, a spokesperson said they were ‘very sorry’ to hear of Mrs Rogerson’s experience and apologised for the medication errors that had been made, that staffing levels had been identified as a concern and that a number of new procedures had been put into place to improve patient experience.
Unfortunately the Rogersons’ concerns have not ended there.
Carol has since sought treatment on a number of occasions and describes ‘very little’ contact from the mental health team since her discharge.
Mr Rogerson said: “It feels like Carol is now being treated differently due to our complaint.
"She was supposed to receive regular telephone appointments, but there has been very little contact.
"I only got a call returned at one point when I was accused of being rude to the receptionist – all I wanted to know was whether I would finally receive a call back to get my wife the medical attention she needed – he didn’t even ask how she was.
"She feels like she has nowhere to turn, and we have had to pay for private treatment which we can’t really afford to continue.
"We had a genuine complaint for the treatment she received, but now it feels like she has been labelled as a problem patient.”
A spokesperson said: “Nottinghamshire Healthcare is very concerned to hear about Mrs Rogerson’s experiences.
“It is important to reassure Carol that her access to services remains unchanged, and the family can access crisis services if they continue to be worried.
“They will also have the opportunity to discuss any ongoing concerns with Carol’s doctor at her next appointment which is within the next few weeks.
"There have been a number of changes within the management roles at Millbrook, including a new ward manager for Lucy Wade as well as a number of new starters to the team of both qualified and unqualified staff.
"We have reviewed the staffing levels for all of the wards in adult mental health services which has seen an increase in staffing levels per shift as well as introducing new roles.
“There have been several positive postings relating to Lucy Wade Unit over the past several months submitted via Care Opinion (the UK’s independent feedback platform) which reflects the changes.
“The CQC’s report following the latest inspection from July is very positive and highlights good practice and improvements made.”