On the second day of Christmas, NSFT took away… all my support

Would you trade places with an NSFT service user?
Would you trade places with an NSFT service user?

Here is the story ‘T’ wanted to tell, ‘Discharged without my involvement’:

I’d been doing really well, and felt on a level for some time. The paranoia and voices never really went away, but with help of my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) I’d got back on my feet. After hospital I stayed in a hostel, then a bedsit for a while, then got my own flat. The first proper place of my own.
My CPN helped me meet people by taking me to a place I could go and meet other people recovering from mental health problems. We supported each other a lot, and it was a safe place to go, I started to help out and do bits and pieces and get a real sense of purpose back. My CPN saw me for an hour every week. That was just enough to help me keep on top of my bills, make a plan for the next week, budget and keep the paranoia under control.
Then, all of a sudden she transferred to another job as part of a cost-cutting exercise and the ‘improvement’ I experienced was that I was told I was being discharged as there was no one to take over from her. The help I needed hadn’t changed, my care plan was still the same, but they just discharged me. Before she left she tried to make sure all my bills were set up.
Then I was just left alone. I stopped going out so much. One of the bills I thought was set up hadn’t, been so I got into debt and didn’t realise. The bailiffs turned up because I stopped opening my post because I was getting more paranoid. They took most of my stuff and I had no gas or electric. I was getting more stressed, not sleeping and more paranoid. I got in a complete mess. The stress made my epilepsy worse and I started having seizures. I got suicidal. I’ve been in and out of hospital for my physical and mental health. The crisis team don’t always answer the phone, and I can’t call them during the day because I’m with a community team but I have been waiting for a new care co-ordinator to be allocated. My neighbours and friends have ended up doing lots to try to keep me safe. It’s humiliating.
It’s such a waste. An hour a week had kept me on the right track for ages. I was thrown out of services without any discussion. I had no choice. And now, months later, I am back in services in a worse state. My care must have cost a lot more now than an hour a week from my CPN. The teams have been cut since they discharged me, so now I’m with the crisis team for longer than I should be because I’ve been waiting for weeks for them to try and find me a care co-ordinator. I’ve heard that there are over 300 in the same situation as me, sat waiting without a care co-ordinator.

T’s story is far from the only one like this we can tell. Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) currently has hundreds of service users either without a care co-ordinator or who have, as a PR exercise to keep the number of unallocated cases down, either been discharged with little to no explanation (they might receive a letter if they are fortunate) or allocated to staff who cannot possibly help them as they don’t have the time to deal with their existing caseloads.

There are hundreds of people this Christmas who have been left in T’s position by NSFT’s ‘Trust Service Strategy’. Would you trade places with them? Perhaps it is time for the Board of NSFT to look in the mirror…

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