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'I'll do what it take's to keep my brother alive' - King's Lynn woman's passionate plea for help

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A West Norfolk woman has issued a passionate plea for help after saying her family has been “let down” by the NHS mental health services.

Joanne Hammond, 47, of Lynn, said her brother,53, had been left feeling suicidal and had “lost all capacity for taking care of himself” but was not receiving enough help from the NHS.

Speaking in Mental Health Awareness Week, Mrs Hammond and her mother, who is 82, have been desperately trying to cope as their loved one was told by the local NHS crisis team he was OK to be left alone.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 (47138476)
Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 (47138476)

A spokesperson for the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, who are in charge of mental health provision in West Norfolk, offered sympathy to the family but said that they stood by the clinical assessment in this case.

But Mrs Hammond said she is concerned for the welfare of her mother as she has been staying at her son’s flat to take care of him.

She said: “We are drained, he is drained. He’s never spoken of suicide before to me and now he will tell anyone who will listen that he doesn’t want to be here anymore. We are meant to be his sister and mother not his carers.

“We have rang 999, 111, Mind, Samaritans, Calm and First Response and it has come to light that there are no beds at the mental health facility Chatterton House. Twenty-four hours can make a huge difference in these circumstances.

“We waited in the hospital for a bed to become free, but we couldn’t wait anymore in those circumstances.

“We were aghast at being told we could leave him alone for the night after having spoken to the crisis team. When he had returned the next day we saw evidence on his body that he had made an attempt on his own life. The crisis team staff member saw it too.

“We understand the pandemic has taken its toll on services, but there’s a campaign to speak up and speak out about mental health.

“We have considered private care and have even contacted the Priory.

“He desperately needs to be out of his environment and under the care of professionals. He can’t so much as make a drink or take care of himself without us.

“He’s out of sorts, and saying that the lack of support is a sign for him not to be here anymore. He’s clearly very unwell.”

Mrs Hammond has sent out a call for help over social media, and said: “I will do what it takes to keep my brother alive.”

The family has waited hours for callbacks from 111, and waited at A&E only to be told that they could wait days or possibly hours for a bed.

Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer at NSFT said: “Treatment for patients is always based on clinical need. In some cases an admission to a mental health hospital will be the best option for treatment. Where a hospital stay is not appropriate, patients will be supported by crisis teams and community mental health teams.

“I would encourage anyone with concerns about theirs or their families care to make contact with our customer service team to discuss their concerns.”

n Worried about your mental health? The Samaritans are there to listen. Call 116 123

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