Sussex patient waited three weeks for ‘urgent’ assessment

A patient waited three weeks for an urgent assessment by mental health professionals – according to an Ombudsman report.


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W02772H14 Swandean Hospital Worthing ENGSUS00120140113162654

An ‘unreasonable’ delay in waiting for treatment at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has been highlighted in a Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman report released today (August 19).

Investigators have upheld a complaint from a patient who experienced a three week delay after her GP referred her to the trust’s community mental health team.

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For confidentiality reasons, the woman is referred to only as ‘Ms C’ in the report.

The report said: “Ms C’s GP referred her for an urgent assessment by the trust community mental health team. Although the referral was urgent, the community mental health team took three weeks to see Ms C.

“Ms C said that she had to take an extended period of sick leave which she attributes to the poor service.”

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which is based in Worthing, provides NHS mental health, specialist learning disability and substance misuse services across Sussex.

Investigators found the trust did not make enough attempts to contact Ms C, and it was three weeks before someone from the community mental health team saw her.

The report said: “The trust’s own protocol required staff to contact a patient within seven days of an urgent referral.

“The unreasonable delay caused Ms C distress and anxiety, but we could not link these failures with Ms C’s absence from work for two months.”

The report describes the mental health trust as ‘open and honest’ in its response to Ms C, acknowledged its failure to see her sooner and said it would take action to improve its service.

But the Ombudsman found this was not followed up, with ‘no evidence of learning by the Trust’ and upheld the complaint.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are committed to providing the best possible care for our patients and are always looking for ways to improve the experience for people using our services.

“We welcome the advice given by the Ombudsman and have taken on board the feedback and acted accordingly.”

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