My experience of mental health care in Burnley

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I saw the article about the mental health ward at Burnley General Hospital, involving a person who was discharged while very suicidal and made allegations about poor care etc… I have an experience about Ward 20 (mental health ward) at the hospital, and so does my friend about Ward 20 and PICU, who has given me permission to share her story.

My experience

I have had five or six years of experiencing mental health problems, resulting in me spending four years in hospitals before I was discharged in March this year. In April, I was going through a particularly tough time and, because of the severity of my suicidal thoughts, I voluntarily got admitted to the ward. After a few hours I wanted to leave but, because of my thoughts, they sectioned me.

After I ligatured (self-strangulation) and got staples out of a magazine to hurt myself with, I was put on 1:1 (a member of staff with me 24/7), two days later I had a meeting with the doctors, nurses, my care team and family.

The doctor asked me if I could keep myself safe, I said ‘I don’t know’, but there and then he discharged me home, straight off 1:1 and off my section. While I was on the ward I was in a lot of restraints and very agitated, yet they never once offered me my regular medication (I’m on medication for physical problems and mental, but didn’t ever offer me any of my meds) but just dosed me up on sedatives.

I think this is completely unacceptable and a complete lack of care. I wouldn’t ever voluntarily go back to Burnley hospital, they clearly didn’t care about my safety, or how distressed I was.

My friend’s experience:

Like me, my friend has a long past with mental health, and has also spent a lot of time in hospital. In the past few weeks she has made a few suicide attempts.

The first one was about a fortnight ago, she ligatured at a friend’s house, the police were called and had to cut the ligature off and help her with breathing properly again.

That night she was admitted to Ward 20 at Burnley Hospital, and was kept in the extra care area with three staff. The very next day she was allowed to leave, which resulted in her running away.

She luckily was found and taken back to hospital, only to be discharged the day after. A few days after this, she hurt herself while in the bath at home and again was taken to hospital, and kept in a police suite at the hospital while being assessed.

She was discharged later that evening, well early morning at 3-30am, in pyjamas, no money, and barely any phone battery, just discharged without anything. At about 3-45am she rang me and was so distressed, cold, tired, no clue where she was and very very suicidal. While on the phone to me, it ran out of battery so I contacted the police. They found her on a bridge in Burnley around 6am, and the whole motorway had to be shut down. (This was the article in the Express about the motorway being shut after a woman threatened to jump off the bridge).

It took the police over two hours to convince her to come back over, and then again was taken to Blackburn A&E before being taken to Burnley PICU (a different mental health ward at Burnley Hospital). Five days later she was due to get discharged, however that morning she swallowed a battery and had to go to the general side of the hospital. She was discharged the day after. Currently she is in a bit of a better frame of mind but still suicidal at times.

I think this is just completely unacceptable and I would go as far as saying neglect. Discharging her after a day or two, or in the case of hurting herself in the bath, hours, after a suicide attempt, just appalling.

Clearly this shows she needs proper help from hospital, not just to be chucked out like that. When she has been discharged it has left her family, me and other friends absolutely terrified for her safety.

I think either the doctors need changing as it is ultimately in their control about being discharged, or the wards being shut down. Because of their lack of care, my friend could have died. If she’d have slipped while on the bridge she’d be dead. Me and my family and my friend’s family are appalled by how Burnley hospital has dealt with everything, in mine and my friend’s experience.

I am telling you this, as if this can be published as an article, it shows everyone just how awful Burnley Hospital has been, and maybe something can finally be done about it.

A concerned teenager

Name and address supplied