Commission Calls Poor Responses To Mental Health Crises In UK Emergency Rooms “Shocking”

Rob Wipond
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“A&E staff are often unsympathetic to patients suffering a mental health crisis and judgmental about injuries they have inflicted on themselves,” stated The Guardian about a report from the Care Quality Commission. After investigating the country’s hospital emergency departments, the Commission found doctors and nurses to be “unhelpful,” and lacking in “basic respect” towards people suffering emotional crises. And those professionals with higher levels of mental health training were often rated the worst by patients.

According to The Guardian, they CQC report found that, “Unhelpful attitudes among doctors and nurses towards people having delusions or panic attacks or contemplating suicide compounds their mental distress.”

The CQC’s deputy chief inspector described the behavior of emergency department staff as “shocking,” and the Commission’s report stated that “far too many people in crisis have poor experiences due to service responses that fail to meet their needs and lack basic respect, warmth and compassion. This is unsafe, unfair and completely unacceptable.”

The Guardian also reported that, “Many survey respondents told the CQC that the police and ambulance services were much better at helping them than the three key types of NHS teams that are trained to do so, namely A&E staff, community mental health teams and crisis resolution home treatment teams. GPs, however, received good ratings.”

A&E staff attitudes to patients in mental health crisis ‘often shocking’ (The Guardian, June 12, 2015)

7 COMMENTS

  1. Of course, for most readers of MIA, these findings are not at all unexpected. The more “mental health” training people have, the less respect and help they give. You have to ask then, what do these people learn in their training? What motivates them to go into the field in the first place? And why are they not held morally responsible for what they do?

    We, and Mad in America, should be raising these questions. When someone shows up in an emergency room having made a suicide attempt, for instance, the way they are treated gives them even more reason to feel they should end their life. Should we be respecting the people who act this way?

    I don’t think it is right to ignore the ethical meaning of this. I think we should be speaking out.

    The people who commit these destructive acts should be held responsible for them.

    • In the UK medical standards are generally speaking quite high; but there’s a culture of ‘anything goes’ in ‘mental health’, and professionals under pressure know this. It’s also near enough impossible to make a mental health complaint in the UK, as there’s too much money to be made out of a system that doesn’t work.

  2. Ted, you are correct as usual. I have worked the ER for years (psychiatric ER and medical ER). The ER culture is very specialized and the goals are to get the patient stabilized and OUT so that there is a bed for the next patient. Psychiatric patients are identified as the least important cases, nurses express disgust that they are “taking up a bed instead of a real patient” People in emotional distress are viewed as malingerers and a waste of time and bed space. This is a real life view of the ER from an insider’s perspective. As a social worker I tried to educate the staff and I always protected my patient from emotional abuse and neglect. They had a nickname for me because of my work; “Magic Margie” because I would find resources for those in emotional distress that they never knew existed.

    • Very cool, “magical Margie.” Kudos.

      And I have no doubt ER doctors’ “goals are to get the patient stabilized and OUT,” IF the patient does not have good insurance. BUT there also psychopaths, like Dr. VR Kuchipudi, who are having well insured people medically unnecessarily shipped to him, and “snowing” people in the hopes of performing unneeded tracheotomies on them for profit, or better yet, killing them because they were kind organ donors. Do you know how much a healthy organ donor’s parts are worth? It’s all about the $$$, so it goes both ways. His FBI arrest report for doing the same thing, at a different hospital, to many other patients:

      http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2013/pr0416_01a.pdf

      The ELCA Advocate Good Samaritan hospital in Downers Grove, IL thinks Kuchipudi’s (and Humaira Saiyed’s) medically unnecessary forced “showings” for profit are “appropriate medical care” in the USA today. I’m quite certain the lawyer who sent me the letter stating such, needs to be put on some willy nilly cocktails of nine of these drugs a day: Etomidate, Benztropine, Depakote, Halperidal, Lorazepam, Geodon, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Darvocet A500, Midrin, Tylenol, Mi-Acid, Milk of Magnesia, and Didronel to help her overcome her delusions. These drugs were actually given to cure a sleep walking / talking problem I had once ever.

      In researching these doctors crimes one learns there’s real problems with the ambulatory and ER systems in the US, too.

    • It’s very comforting to know there are some professionals who are compassionate and actually do care about people’s emotional suffering!

      The prevalent attitude of contempt for those in mental distress, regarding them as malingerers and ushering them out the door so that “real patients” can be tended to fits in perfectly with medical model. Those suffering are superficially and expediently given a prescription for brain-disabling drugs instead of the psychological therapy or counseling they truly need.

  3. Many of us know how heartless “well trained mental health professionals” are. The quality of their “training” is an issue for another day.

    I OD’d in a mental hospital…a private, for profit, overpriced hell hole. I was left wallowing in my own urine and denied any medical care for the ill effects of a massive Restoril OD. This was part of my “treatment.” I’m just one person who’s been put through Hell on earth by people in the so-called “helping professions.”

    I think taking emotional distress back from the “professionals” is step #1 towards helping more people get better and get on with life. These people, with their often mass-produced degrees and psychobabble…infuriate me. I think, especially in America, and especially since Reagan, psychobabble has had a very mean spirited, blame the victim flavor to it. “Losers” don’t matter in America.