Once again it’s been ages since I last posted, and I have so much to write about that I hardly know where to start. It seems I have another strong letter to write, this time to the Chairman of the NHS Trust in our county, as I have received a response from him regarding “the letter” which has made me furious. This is the most recent response after a long line of letters and telephone calls; mostly by people who I never sent a copy of the letter to in the first place.
Following the response I received from the local MP to “the letter”, I then received a letter of response from the Acting Manager for the local Community Mental Health Team. He wrote to acknowledge receipt of my letter and to inform me that the issues would be looked into, and that I would receive a full response within 20 working days. It was obvious by the content that that he had misunderstood my letter and taken it as a complaint about the services themselves rather than a complaint about the lack of services due to cut backs.
This was proved true by the fact that I then received another letter, this time from someone who I hadn’t even sent a copy of the letter to, which was the Complaints Manager. It felt very strange to receive a letter from her, and to see her name in print again after so many years. The last time I spoke to her was in October 2002 at a meeting which included her, the Ward Manager from the hospital that Mr Man was a patient in at the time, and the Medical Director. The Complaints Manager is a very nice lady and I feel that she is possibly the only person who recognised the seriousness of how Mr Man was treated back then, and the fact that my complaint wasn’t dealt with appropriately. At the time she advised me that I didn’t have to accept the outcome of the investigation if I wasn’t happy with it, and that I could pursue with my complaint if I wanted to, but I was at breaking point mentally and emotionally and unfortunately didn’t have the strength to take it further. I will write more about the occasion when I finally reach that part in “our story”, but seeing her name again brought back a lot of memories. I couldn’t help but wonder if she remembered my previous complaint, and if she would still be as supportive of me as she was back then, should I choose to take it up again, or if it was now too late to pursue a 4 ½ year old complaint.
It seems she wasn’t the only person who was sent a copy of my letter; even Mark, Mr Mans CPN, had seen a copy of it and commented to me during his last visit that it had caused “quite a stir”. In fact it would seem that very few people within the Trust haven’t seen it, despite the Complaints Manager assuring me in her letter that my “complaint and related correspondence will remain confidential.”
I was contacted by telephone by another “Acting Manager” of the CMHT as the Acting Manager that I had originally written to was away (apparently they have no real managers, just lots of people who act like managers), and she told me that she had discussed my letter with the Manager at the respite home, who also had been forwarded a copy of my letter. (So far this is four people who have responded in some way to my letter who I have not actually sent a copy of it to, including; the Complaints Manager, Mr Mans CPN, a second Acting Manager, and the Manager at the respite home, but only two responses from people who I have actually sent a copy to; the local MP and the Acting Manager of the CMHT.)
This second Acting Manager was very friendly and eager to settle the issues that had been raised, as was the Manager at the respite home, who not only agreed to Mr Man having three respite breaks a year instead of two, but also said that if I ever found myself in the same situation as I did last summer when I needed to go into hospital I should speak to her directly and she would make sure that Mr Man has a bed in the respite home and this would not be regarded as one of his three stays. In fact, she was extremely accommodating, even saying that if I ever wanted to get away for a couple of days extra I could ring the respite home on the “off chance” to see if they had any beds available for Mr Man, as they would rather the beds be occupied than to be left empty.
Obviously, I greatly appreciated these offers, but as I explained to both the Acting Manager for the CMHT and the Manager for the respite home, the point of my letter was really to highlight how the cut backs in Mental Health are affecting all patients and their carers, not simply to procure extra respite breaks for Mr Man and myself.
My conversation with the Manager at the respite home was very interesting, as she explained to me in more detail where exactly these cut backs have taken place in our area, and that the Trust prefers to refer to them as a “reconfiguration” rather than a “cut back”.
Next I received a “response” from the Chief Executive, who is actually one of the four people who I had sent a letter to, and the third to respond. I say “I” received it, but actually it was addressed to Mr Man, and I say “response” but actually it was merely an application form to become a member of the Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust with a photocopy of his signature at the bottom. So either he’s so lazy/busy/indifferent to my complaint that all he could be bothered to do is send out this “invitation”, or he thought that my letter was so extremely well written that I ought to be on the Board of Governors. I’m guessing it was the former reason, although there is a third option; maybe he presumes that I would fancy a position on the Board of Governors as I like the sound of my own voice so much, or the sight of my own typing at least.
Today I received a letter from the Chairman of the NHS Trust for our county, who I had not written to personally, but who had received a copy of my letter from the local MP. His letter has made me extremely angry, as although polite, I feel that it is very condescending and patronising, not to mention full of crap. In part he wrote:
…not unnaturally, you have been concerned by the reductions in our budget that took place last year. I must stress that [the respite home] has been wholly unaffected by those changes. My understanding is that your husband only needed to use [the respite home] twice last year and, therefore, that is why his provision was changed from three times a year to twice a year.
Which to me, translates as: “You don’t know what you’re talking about because the cut backs didn’t even affect the respite home that you use, and you obviously don’t need the breaks that badly because you didn’t even use all three breaks last year” which is insult enough, but what infuriates me even more is the fact that both statements are completely untrue and that he has copied his letter to the four people who I originally wrote to, thus undermining my letter of complaint and making me look completely stupid.
I assure you, I will be writing a very strong letter to this Chairman. I’ll have to try to resist the urge to resort to nit picking, such as the fact that he didn’t even use capital letters at the beginning of some names, and that his printer obviously needs a new ink cartridge as the header was faded. I’m wondering if I should send copies of my reply to the additional five people who have now seen my original letter, as well as the original four, or should I just request that a copy be sent to anyone and everyone who works for the Trust?