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Can I sue?

(12 Posts)
ell1 Fri 09-Sep-11 21:45:58

I had a very very horrible experience when I was in a psych hospital, this time last year. It was an abusive atmosphere (and I am talking about the staff not the patients). They would lock the bedroom and toilet doors for around 5 hours (their explanation was for cleaning purposes) this resulted in patients having to resort to urinating in the garden. When I tried to talk to a nurse about my suicidal feelings she deemed me 'selfish'.
I could go on and on. We did put in a huge complaint straight away and had a meeting with some top dog, but I still have extreme anxiety about my stay and it has made making any further contact with my MHT very hard as they are based in the same building and I am terrified if I went to them when ill I would be admitted to that ward again.
I saw a lot of abuse directed to one patient in particular, a nurse walked up to her one day and actually shouted "BOO!" right in her face....I still wonder what happened to this poor girl. :0(

madmouse Fri 09-Sep-11 22:21:56

Speaking as a lawyer my first question would be what you want to achieve with suing?

Suing is a long painful and uncertain process which can end up making you feel worse.

You should also be aware that you can only sue for damages (which can be hard to quantify) and not for an apology, or for changes to the system.

ell1 Fri 09-Sep-11 22:25:47

I think what I want to achieve is an acknowledgement that their staff are basically not up to their job, I would not treat a dog the way I and other patients were treated, its not for money gain.

madmouse Fri 09-Sep-11 22:35:20

I understand that it is not about money - which is why I asked what you are hoping to achieve. Of course a court judgment in your favour awarding you damages would hugely validate your experience but would still fall short of an apology or any changes.

Have you looked into contacting your MP or your local newspaper?

If you go down the legal route can I please ask that you leave ambulance chasers well alone as they are rubbish and really not up to a job of this complexity and ask a reputable solicitor to assess your case. It is little known that 'proper' solicitors can also offer no win no fee arrangments.

ell1 Fri 09-Sep-11 22:39:15

what are 'ambulance chasers'?

NanaNina Fri 09-Sep-11 22:49:46

Hiell1 - I too saw some very unacceptable practice on a psychiatric ward where I was for 3 months last Easter. Nothing as bad as what you described, but certainly staff who were totally disinterested in the patients and chatted between themselves, often with patients sitting in between 2 members of staff chatting. Staff mostly didn't introduce themselves (which increased my anxiety and feelings of isolation) There was one particular nursing assistant who was truly awful - she used to shout at patients, and had a bullying attitude. She once told me to "pull myself together" and I told the ward manager who took it very seriously and the nursing asst was made to apologise to me.

I think the only good thing about a psych ward is that it takes all responsibilities away from you, at a time when breathing is too difficult. Your meds are given on time and food (sometimes inedible) was produced, and that's about it. My key nurse presented me with my care plan and I commented that I would have thought I would have been involved in making the plan, and she said "well nobody else has ever said that" - and the conslt psych was unbelievable - he was totally detached - never gave eye contact even and all the nursing staff were afraid of him.

You do have the right to make written comments to the PCT - in fact I was sent a request to give comments if I wished, and I did but of course I wasn't totally honest because I was afraid that I may end up on that ward again. Terrible I know. I suggest that you telephone the hospital and ask for the name and address of the person to whom you wish to make comments about your stay on the psych ward and then make your complaints. This may enable you to at least feel that some of your complaints will be addressed.

madmouse Fri 09-Sep-11 22:54:11

ambulance chasers are the people advertising on telly that they can get you 'the compensation you deserve'. They also advertise in hospitals and yellow pages.

ell1 Fri 09-Sep-11 22:59:32

ah okay, thanks. I also read somewhere that you have to make a complaint/claim within 6 months, do u know if this is the case?

madmouse Fri 09-Sep-11 23:04:12

That will depend on a lot of different things. I don't practise this type of law (I'm exclusively in immigration right now smile )

If you are serious about legal action make a preliminary appointment with a solicitor.

AndTheWinnerIs Fri 09-Sep-11 23:11:57

What about contacting the Nursing and Midwives council?
They deal with staff who are not fit to practice for whatever reason.

orangeflutie Sat 10-Sep-11 10:54:58

Sorry to hear you had such an awful experience. It's shocking to hear that this sort of abuse is still going on. This was a time when you were feeling very vulnerable and you needed care and support.

I don't know where you stand legally but you could try contacting the Care Quality Commission. They have a website and there is also a central number which is: 03000 616161.

I think you definitely need to do something for your sake and for others, to make sure this abuse can't continue.

ovumahead Sat 10-Sep-11 15:18:25

I would echo what others have said - it seems you feel passionate enough about this awful treatment to get something changed. You should shout as loudly as you can, write as many letters and emails to whoever you think might be able to help you, and get your voice heard. It is vital for the treatment of others in similar situations. If I were you I would try to find out if there are any Service User groups near you, often these groups will help you and support you in making complaints, taking legal action etc. Also, perhaps contact Mind who might also be able to point you in the right direction and offer you support and advice in getting your voice heard.

There are unfortunately a LOT of other people out there who've had horrific experiences in psychiatric hospitals - try to join forces if you can.

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