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"I am the only one working - please don't kill yourself on my shift"

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9:48am 18th November 2013
(Updated 9:48am 18th November 2013)

A Cornish patient says they self-harmed after asking for help and being told to make a cup of tea and have a bath.

Inspectors say there needs to be better out-of-hours mental health support.

In the summer the Care Quality Commission spoke to more than a hundred patients and carers who use the Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust.

Many said the standard of care during the day was "fantastic" but others raised concerns about help available out-of-hours.

One person asking for advocacy support was told to look in the Yellow Pages.The report says when they were in distress on a Friday afternoon they had the phone put down on them at five o'clock.

Another was apparently told "I am the only one working - please don't kill yourself on my shift."

Inspectors say the findings were echoed by police and ambulance crews who expressed "frustration" at the availability of workers between 10pm-9am and who warned the service was not able to meet people's needs "in a timely fashion."

The report adds "People did not receive a safe, effective, caring, well led service which was responsive to people's needs and consequently placed them at risk."

Debbie Pritchard is from watchdog Healthwatch Cornwall said: "I think they need to put more resources in and some training around what is available for people when they ring out of hours. There are services available to support people and they shouldn't be told to have a cup of tea, have a bath or 'don't kill yourself on my shift.' That's completely inappropriate."

Inspectors say staffing levels are now being reviewed in light of comments made by patients.

Julie Dawson, Chief Operating Officer of the Partnership Trust said: "We are pleased the majority of people were positive about their care and the staff who support them. Comments made about Community Psychiatric Nurses to CQC inspectors included ‘fantastic’, ‘absolutely amazing’ and ‘top notch’. The inspectors acknowledged that people felt involved in the development and review of their care plans which reflected the assistance and support they required.

“The majority of people knew the number to call for out-of-hours telephone support and how to get help urgently or during a crisis. A survey conducted by the Trust earlier in the year highlighted areas where improvements could be made to out-of-hours telephone support; comments to CQC inspectors echoed our initial findings.

"Actions to address this feedback were put in place and formed the basis of the action plan submitted to the CQC.

“Good progress has been made and a number of actions have already been completed. This includes the submission of an outline business case to NHS Kernow for a Mental Health Acute Care Pathway, this would allow the Trust to provide a more responsive out-of-hours service and increase the availability of adult inpatient services in Cornwall.

"All actions identified are due to be completed by early in 2014.”

9:48am 18th November 2013

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