Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Hospital sends A&E suicidal man home with Post-It note instructions on sleeve

A vulnerable man was discharged from Northern Ireland A&E with a Post-It note stuck to his sleeve telling him how to contact a mental health charity, it has been claimed.

The case is just one of a series of examples of shocking failures in mental health provision in Northern Ireland revealed as research highlights the number of suicides here is increasing.

Jennifer McGeown from suicide support group PIPS said the health service cannot cope with demand.

"This man turned up at our doors with a Post-It note stuck to his jacket," she said.

"He had been discharged from A&E, and as far as I know he got a taxi to us.

"As we speak, we are offering support to the parents of a young woman who has made several suicide attempts and is in A&E after trying to kill herself.

"The hospital now wants to discharge her. It is shocking, but this kind of thing is very common," she added.

"The hospital isn't to blame. There simply isn't the capacity to deal with the number of people who need help."

Ms McGeown said charities such as PIPS are struggling to cope as they support and counsel the increasing number of people who cannot access much-needed treatment through the NHS.

"We currently have 449 active clients on our database which range from people with low mood up to those who are seriously ill," she said.

"In the past two weeks we have had 11 people walk in who we deem to be high risk -- which is when we believe a person is in immediate danger of harm.

"We have clients who wait over six months for therapy on the health service.

"In fact, I am aware of people who have been through counselling with us when they finally receive a letter from the hospital with an appointment months down the line.

"It is simply not good enough. It is never acceptable for a person who is high risk to be sent home and have to wait even 24 hours for help."

She continued: "We find it very difficult but we will always do our best for clients.

"We are actually looking at opening from 9am to 9pm, although that will take even more money that we just don't have."

Her comments come just a day after the Belfast Telegraph highlighted the case of a young woman discharged from A&E even though she repeatedly told staff she was planning to kill herself.

After spending eight hours at the Royal Victoria Hospital's A&E after attempting to take her life, she was assessed by a mental health specialist and told she should be admitted for her own safety.

However, she was subsequently told she was to be discharged as there were no beds available.

She said: "It took all the strength I had to go to A&E and I was left feeling like nobody cared."

The Belfast Health & Social Care Trust is investigating the incident.

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