The recent announcement of a five-year suicide prevention strategy and upcoming national investigation into mental health services in the UK has highlighted the failures of the NHS in providing adequate care to patients. One patient, Nicola Brokenshire, has spoken out about her own experiences with the healthcare system and how it has failed her.
Nicola, a 28-year-old with autism and resulting mental health problems, has been in and out of inpatient care for approximately 10 years. She describes her experiences in the NHS as damaging rather than helpful, stating that the focus is on getting patients in, making it look like they’ve been helped, and then discharging them. This approach does not address the underlying issues and instead leaves patients feeling unsupported and hopeless.
One issue that Nicola raised is the presence of staff sleeping on the job. She explains that this not only puts patients at risk, but it also means that self-harm and absconding can go unnoticed. This problem is exacerbated by the growing use of agency staff, who often work double shifts across different hospitals within a 24-hour period. This lack of oversight and accountability within the healthcare system contributes to the failure in providing proper care to patients.
Nicola believes that her self-harming behaviors are a result of her autism and a coping mechanism learned from other patients. She emphasizes the need for the NHS to provide better support and care for individuals with autism, as misdiagnosis and a lack of understanding can lead to further mental health problems. The government’s suicide prevention strategy recognizes the higher risk of suicide among autistic individuals and calls for tailored services to meet their specific needs.
In Nicola’s case, her family feels that she requires better autism-informed care. An independent review of her care found that her suicide risk increased after being admitted to the hospital and raised concerns about her transition out of hospital. This lack of proper planning and support during the transition period can lead to further deterioration of mental health and feelings of hopelessness.
Overall, Nicola’s story highlights the shortcomings of the NHS in providing adequate mental health services. The government’s new strategy and investigation are positive steps towards addressing these issues, but it is crucial that the focus remains on improving the quality of care and support provided to individuals like Nicola. Attention needs to be given to ensuring that patients receive personalized, effective care that addresses their unique needs and helps them on the path to recovery.