Belfast Telegraph

Belfast man hits out at mental health facilities after brother waits 25 hours to be assessed

Ryan Tinsley, who has hit out at mental health provision in Northern Ireland
Ryan Tinsley, who has hit out at mental health provision in Northern Ireland
Ryan Tinsley from Belfast

By Eimear McGovern

A Belfast man has hit out at mental health provisions in Northern Ireland after waiting 25 hours for an assessment for his brother to get him admitted to a facility.

Ryan Tinsley (24) had to stay by his brother's side throughout the night until a mental health team were available to assess him.

His 27-year-old brother Christopher - who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia - was eventually admitted to the City Hospital mental health facility on Sunday evening.

However, a sofa in the lounge was the only place for him to stay until a bed became available on Wednesday.

Mr Tinsley, who is from the Shankill area of the city, said he has always known Christopher to suffer his condition for almost his entire life.

"In the past four years, he's been admitted [to a mental health facility] six times," he said.

"This is the second time he's admitted himself but the other four times he's had to be arrested to be admitted."

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When his brother has an episode, Mr Tinsley said his family go to the hospital where they wait for the call-out crisis team to carry out an assessment on Christopher.

"They tell you to wait there but he can't wait there because of the crowds, he runs out the door. Many times we've been sitting in A&E and he just bolts," he continued.

"He doesn't answer his phone and you don't know where he is or what he's doing. When he's in an episode, he doesn't know who he is and he doesn't know who we are."

Mr Tinsley welcomed new baby girl Harley on Friday and said when his brother had an episode on Saturday, he was forced to go out and look for him.

"The baby was in an incubator. I spent from Saturday morning sitting in the hospital and I come home thinking if he's in an episode, I have to get to him," he said.

"I had to run over and look for him, finally got him on the phone and he told me that there are people trying to get him. I told him, there's no one out to get you. He starts telling me, you're out to get me. It's very hard."

Ryan said the Tinsley family - he, his other two brothers, and mother Kelly - always know when Christopher is about to have an episode.

"If you see my brother walking about, his head never stays still. He's always looking over his shoulder. When he gets to a corner he creeps around it like he's looking for someone.

"It happens two or three days before. That's the start of the episode - people out to get him, everyone's talking about him."

On Saturday, Mr Tinsley said he found his brother in someone else's back garden, after which he called for emergency assistance only to be told he faced a 25-hour wait.

"I told them I was here by myself with my other half in hospital with our newborn. If he wakes up and attacks me, he can overpower me at this point," he said.

"He's attacked family members, he's self-harmed himself during these episodes. It's been going on so long now."

Mr Tinsley said he has nothing but praise for staff who have helped his brother during his previous episodes and for the new secure facilities at Belfast City hospital.

But he said patients should not need a new assessment every time there is a call for help when they've been admitted numerous times in the past.

He said Christopher needs a longer stay in a facility to help him deal with his condition.

"He'll be let out in four weeks and I can guarantee by the end of the year, he'll be back in. I know it sounds bad but I think he should be in a facility for six months or a year," he said.

A Belfast Trust spokesperson said that, while they cannot comment on individual cases, they strive to ensure every patient is treated with "compassion and sensitivity".

"While it can be an anxious time for patients and their relatives, it is necessary to complete a mental health assessment, to ascertain if admission to an acute inpatient facility is the most appropriate plan for the person," the spokesperson added.

"Belfast Trust sympathises with members of the public who experience long delays waiting on a bed becoming available, and we apologise for the delay on this occasion." 

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