‘Health system letting me down’

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A Derry woman has claimed changes to the provision of community mental health care in the city will see her end up “either behind bars or on a mortuary slab”.

The woman, who asked not be named, claimed since Mental Health services in the Western Trust area were restructured last year she has not had the opportunity to see her Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) as often as it was recommended she should.

She said the emphasis on care in the community, as opposed to care in a hospital setting could “see people slipping through the net”.

The restructuring occurred alongside the opening of a new state of the art mental health facility at Grangewood - the site of the old Gransha hospital.

“I’m not just worried for me,” the woman said.

“I know people out there who are not getting the help they need.

“The system seems to be unable to cope with the pressure that is on it.

“I have not seen my CPN for a month but I’m supposed to see them every two weeks.

“It feels as if mental health doesn’t matter - as if we are being allowed to slip through the net.”

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said: “The recent restructuring on mental health services and the opening of Grangewood Hospital has led to an increase in the development of community mental health services and alternatives to traditional hospital based care as described by the Bamford Review of Mental Health Services.

“It is anticipated that more services are available in the community in the form of Fidelity Model Crisis Response Home Treatment.

“There is no evidence of a negative impact on care provided in the community by CPNs (Community Psychiatric Nurse).”

The spokesperson continued: “The work of CPNs is individually agreed with the service user based on clinical presentation and assessment of level of need. CPNs do not work to specific targets.

“The frequency of visits/support is based on the service user’s presentation and agreed through a collaborative and partnership approach within a recovery ethos.

“The Trust recruits CPNs based on vacancies.

“A number of CPNs were recruited for the new Crisis Service.

“Within the Northern Sector of the Western Trust, there are approximately 950 individuals receiving support from CPNs.

“This figure excludes short-term work undertaken by Primary Care Liaison Services and specialist work carried out by the Alcohol and Drug Service.”