Kettering mum's anguish at sons' mental health discharge as they are told: 'go to your GP instead of specialist unit'

The two patients received the letters without warning

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 10:19 am

A Kettering mum says she is 'absolutely distraught' at the decision to discharge her adult sons from the mental health team that they have relied on since they were children.

Her sons, now in their twenties, received letters on the same day informing them that 'in line with the NHS long-term plan' review they were no longer under the immediate care of St Mary's Hospital's community mental health team.

The letters advised the pair, who have been diagnosed with conditions including ADHD and autism, that they had been discharged to the care of their GPs for support with their medication.

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Previously they could call the service and access a psychiatrist for expert help when their mental health deteriorated but now they will have to go to their family doctor.

The mum, who did not want to be identified, said: "There's no safety net without the community mental health team back up services. You can't get into a GP - and they are not specialists.

"This is going to be an absolute nightmare. I can't believe it. I'm absolutely distraught. I phoned the hospital and they said they were fielding a lot of calls about this.

"We got a letter the week before to say that PCART (planned care and recovery team) no longer exists and it was being replaced by the community mental health team.

"I'm frightened. They have completely dismissed all their other issues and only mention their ADHD. I'm so angry for my boys."

One of the Kettering mum's sons has autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, comorbid anxiety and depression, Tourette's and foetal valproate spectrum disorder. Her younger son has autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyspraxia, depression, anxiety and foetal valproate spectrum disorder. They are both on complex medications.

She said: "Following a phone call to the patient services manager at our surgery and long discussion with a partner GP we are currently waiting an appointment to discuss medication and reviews for both and for the GP to assess what support can be given.

"Following my panic phone calls to my councillor, who contacted various council departments on our behalf, we are now in contact with adult services for assessment for social worker support.

"And apparently the community mental health team say the boys are stable. Their idea of stable and mine are very different. I have to question how many others are feeling panicked and unsupported with no warning. It's very distressing to receive letters like that out of the blue. It's the worst decision ever."

NHS Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's letter to one of her sons said: "Dear Mr XXX.

"In line with the NHS long-term plan we have been asked to review how we meet the mental health needs of the local community. We have reviewed your care and we recognise your continued stability. In light of your stability we have reviewed your case and agreed that you are now discharged and can continue to access medication support via your GP.

"If you have any queries about your medication or a deterioration in your symptoms...please contact your GP surgery. Should your GP re-refer you back to our services you will not be subject to our normal waiting list and you will be assessed as a matter of urgency."

The letter added that support could be accessed through the GP, the 111 service or the Integrated Hub. The letter also gave the Samaritans helpline number - signing off on the trust notepaper emblazoned with the motto: 'Making a difference for you. With you'.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “Northamptonshire Healthcare is committed to working with our patients and service users to ensure that they receive the most appropriate care to meet their needs. We are not able to discuss individual care in order to maintain the safety and confidentiality of our patients.

“One of the core aims of service delivery is for specialist healthcare colleagues to work with patients to ensure that they receive the care and treatment they need to manage their long-term individual needs in a community environment following comprehensive assessment. To support this, there are established care protocols in place whereby clinicians work with patients to review their ongoing treatment and assess their needs; in some circumstances discharging to GP care for their ongoing medication management.

“The NHS long-term and programme of transformation of community mental health services are not associated with this pathway and this information was included in error within this specific letter. NHFT is working with colleagues within the relevant services to review this matter and remove reference of this within this specific patient letter. Once a patient has been assessed to be discharged from the care of the service and under the review of their GP, service users can contact the 24-hour mental health number for support or speak to their GP about their individual needs.”

The mum has been told that her sons will be able to access acute care if they relapse. The two have been looked after by the service for more than a decade.

She said: "In the letter we were given a list of services including Mind and Johnny's Happy Place - drop-ins. I'm absolutely gutted. People need to know that this has been slipped under the radar."