"Sir Charles Gairdener Hospital"

About: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital / Emergency Department

(as the patient),

I was held in the emergency department observation ward for 3 days in this hospital.  This ward has no windows and is designed for short stay only. On day 2 an ED registrar presented me with a form 1A which stated that I would be detained as an involuntary patient for examination by a psychiatrist.  She had signed and dated the form on the previous day, but failed to present it to me at the time. Hospital staff failed to provide me with any counselling, psychological support or information regarding my rights during the time that I was detained on the observation ward.  Detention as an involuntary patient is only permitted if less restrictive forms of care are not possible.  Prior to signing the form 1A, the registrar had informed me that she wanted to discharge me home with support of Hospital in the Home.  However, she then proceeded to sign the form 1A on that same day and didn't even inform me.  The possibility of voluntary inpatient care was not offered although on the form 1A the doctor falsely claimed that I had declined voluntary care.  After 3 days on the observation ward, I was transferred to an involuntary ward which was the most terrifying experience of my life.  No staff had made any attempt to prepare me for what to expect.  Stripped of most of my belongings (including the most personal items such as sanitary goods and a bra) and locked up with a bunch of psychotic people and staff that just didn't seem to care.  I was repeatedly stalked and sexually harassed by one very psychotic patient.  During the 24 hours that I was detained in what felt like a hellhole, I ate nothing as food was only permitted in a communal dining room and I was too afraid to leave my room.  A form 1A is only valid for 72 hours.  It took more than 71 hours to find a consultant psychiatrist to examine me, after which I was immediately discharged home.  I was not actually told I could leave until after the form 1A had expired.

This has been a life changing experience.  I will never again seek health care of any description as I feel the system is truly broken and so am I.

I believe numerous breaches of the Mental Health Act and the Patients Charter occurred. 

Responses

Response from Jennifer Francis, A/Director Safety, Quality & Performance, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, North Metropolitan Health Service

Dear alphamp46,

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience of the Emergency Department (ED) at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH). Firstly I would like to sincerely apologise for the distress that this experience caused. I appreciate how frightening being in the ED can be and I am very sorry that the interactions you had with our staff were not more supportive and caring.

The care and communication you describe is not in keeping with the values of our service and I encourage you to contact our Patient Liaison Service on (08) 6457 2867 so that we are able to obtain further details and investigate the concerns you have raised more fully.

Once again, thank you for bringing this to our attention and I hope that you will be happy to contact us.

Kind regards

Geraldine Carlton

A/Executive Director

Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group

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Response from Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director, Mental Health, Public Health & Dental Services, North Metropolitan Health Service

Dear alphamp46,

Thank you for sharing your story regarding your experience at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) Mental Health Unit (MHU). I am sorry that the service did not meet your expectations on this occasion and that the interactions you had with our staff were not more supportive and caring. I am sincerely sorry that you have had this experience and for the distress which this has caused you.

We understand how disappointing it can be when expectations are not met and I encourage you to contact the Stakeholder Liaison Officer on (08) 9242 9612 or email feedback.NMHSMH@health.wa.gov.au to further discuss and investigate your concerns. Your feedback will assist us to improve the care we provide to all North Metropolitan Mental Health Service patients who are admitted to our service.

Thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns with me.

Kind regards

Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director
North Metropolitan Health Service, Mental Health, Public Health and Dental Services

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Update posted by alphamp46 (the patient)

On Tuesday 21st August, I sent a detailed letter of complaint by email to The Stakeholder Liaison Officer at the email address that you have stated. Despite the extremely serious nature of the issues raised, eight days later, I have not even had acknowledgement that this complaint has been received. I have also phoned the number that you have stated on several occasions to inquire whether my complaint has been received. On all occasions, the phone has been unanswered and I have left several messages on the voicemail. None of my calls have been returned. In my opinion, the situation is appalling. Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HADSCO) have advised me that their inquiries have led them to believe that there is nobody currently performing the role of Stakeholder Liaison Officer.

Response from Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director, Mental Health, Public Health & Dental Services, North Metropolitan Health Service

Dear alphamp46

I would like to sincerely apologise for the delay in acknowledgement of your complaint letter and the lack of response to your phone calls to our Consumer Feedback Department. Our usual high standard of service was not met in this instance and I am sorry for the distress that this has caused you. This is unacceptable and consequently, measures have been put in place to ensure this does not happen again in the future.

I am aware that the Director of Clinical Services, North Metropolitan Mental Health Service has made contact with you and is investigating your complaint. I would like to offer you the opportunity to meet with the Head of Clinical Service from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Mental Health Unit, at a time suitable to you, should you wish to discuss your experience with our service.

I truly regret the unfortunate circumstances of your experience with our service and I would like to thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. The North Metropolitan Mental Health Service is dedicated to providing specialist, patient-centred mental health care and your feedback will enable us to continue to improve this focus.

Kind Regards

Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director
North Metropolitan Health Service, Mental Health, Public Health and Dental Services

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Update posted by alphamp46 (the patient)

Dear Ms Elmes,

Thank you for your belated response to my complaint. I feel that the department that you are responsible for has failed to perform to an acceptable standard on multiple levels from clinical care up to the executive. Having gone to exhaustive, fruitless attempts to direct my complaint through the prescribed channel, I resorted to lodging it with the office of The Minister for Health. I believe that this action is what finally led to contact from The Director of Clinical Services.

In addition to the traumatic circumstances that led to my admission, the experiences that I have had as an inpatient, along with the manner in which my complaint has been dealt with have significantly impacted on my wellbeing to the point that I do not feel able accept your offer to meet with the Head of Clinical Service. Quite honestly, meetings and discussions of this nature will only serve to further compound the trauma that I have already experienced and are likely to result in further harm.

I request that you provide a comprehensive written response to all of the issues raised in my original complaint letter. I understand that the acceptable timeframe for you to perform this task is thirty days from the date of my letter. I sincerely hope that on this one occasion, your department can deliver an appropriate service within an acceptable timeframe.

Response from Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director, Mental Health, Public Health & Dental Services, North Metropolitan Health Service

Dear alphamp46

Thank you for your response and regrettably our services have not met your expectations. We sincerely apologise for the distress and trauma this has caused you.

I can confirm that your complaint is being investigated and we will provide you with a detailed response within the 30 day time frame. I acknowledge that given your experience with the service and during your attempt to provide feedback that meeting with staff may not be appropriate for you at this time. If in the future you decide you would like to discuss your experience or the response to your complaint with the Head of Clinical Services, this can be arranged for you. Our engagement with consumers, carers and family via the complaints and feedback process is a valued and integral part of our service and I am again sorry that we did not reflect this standard in your experience.

Kind Regards

Roslyn Elmes, Executive Director
North Metropolitan Health Service, Mental Health, Public Health and Dental Services

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Updates, changes and questions related to this story

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