Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Second Letter of Complaint

I’m really sorry that this blog seems to have become all about my ongoing complaint, rather than all issues relating to Schizophrenia and Mental Health care in general.

After receiving a letter from the Chairman of the Trust this morning I have been really angry all day. All I keep thinking is “How dare you! Don’t you dare try to sweep my complaint under the carpet again like you did last time!” and I’ve just been pacing the floor all day because I’m so angry.

I’ve written my letter of response anyway, and I would really appreciate some feed back on how it comes across and if any of it should be changed.

“Dear [Mr Scumbag],

Thank you for your letter dated 4th April 2007. Like you, I have also decided to copy this letter to all parties concerned, including [the name of], the Manager at [the respite home], and [the name of the], Complaints Manager.

Personally I find it completely inappropriate and unprofessional to point out the supposed errors of an individual in a letter and then forward it to so many people, thus undermining their authority on a particular subject in the eyes of others, but seeing as you have set the standard in this regard I presume you have no qualms with me doing likewise.

As you so rightly pointed out, the reductions in your budget which took place last year did not affect the funding of [the respite home], but to say that [the respite home] has been “wholly unaffected by those changes” is inaccurate to say the least.

As you well know, [the respite home] offers a range of services as well as short term respite, including but not limited to rehabilitation for individuals who have become less independent through prolonged stays in hospital, with 24 hour support. Previously [a different home] also provided this service, with a total of 10 beds, 6 of which included 24 hour support. Since the “reconfiguration” of services – or cut backs in layman’s terms – [this other home] can no longer offer 24 hour support to any of its users, and provides only 4 beds for rehabilitation, 6 fewer than what was available previously.

[The respite home] is now the only service in the North of the county which provides this kind of 24 hour support for service users. In addition to this, there are obviously a great deal more people on the waiting list for rehabilitation at [the respite home] who would previously have stayed at [the other home]. In response to this, the Manager at [the respite home], [A N Other], obviously had to find ways to accommodate for this increase in demand, and so it was decided that one of the respite beds would be used for this purpose, leaving only one respite bed.

It is my understanding that this decision was made partly to fulfil demand for rehabilitation beds, but also because the respite beds were actually being underused. This brings me to the second point in your letter which was entirely false.

You state that [Mr Man] only used the services at [the respite home] twice last year, and that the reduction in this provision was based on this. I can assure you that [Mr Man] stayed three times last year, and I am happy to provide the dates of his stays if you wish me to. In fact I actually needed him to be able to stay five times last year, and I am outraged to learn that the respite beds were being underused when I needed to take advantage of them so badly. Until my recent conversation with [the Manager at the respite home] I have always been led to believe that we were entitled to only three breaks a year and no more. I wonder how other service users and their carers would feel at knowing that services which were so sorely needed were going to waste by not being offered to them.

Indeed, rather than [Mr Man] having his respite stays reduced due to lack of use by us, it is a fact that all service users who use [the respite home] have had this provision reduced.

If you are sincere in believing that your false statements are true then I am more than a little disconcerted that you appear to be so unaware of what goes on within your own Trust, and unaware of how changes to one service can directly affect another. I would appreciate you taking a little more interest in the matters at hand, rather than trying to neatly sweep the whole issue under the carpet through denial, which, in my previous experience, seems to be the usual course of action by the [county] NHS Trust.

Finally, I would just like to add that I have spoken to [the Manager at the respite home] and she has been most obliging in allowing [Mr Man] to stay at [the respite home] at least three times a year. I am very grateful to her for accommodating our needs in this way, but would like to stress that the purpose of my original letter was to highlight with our own personal experiences as an example, how cutbacks in Mental Health Services affect all service users and their carers, not simply to procure extra respite breaks for [Mr Man] and myself.”

There is so much more that I want to add to this letter, mostly insults, but I’m doing my best to refrain! I really wanted to add something like: “I find your denial patronising and insulting to my intelligence, and I wonder what it is that you have done in your life that was so great that you presume you have the right to treat another individual in such a disgraceful way.” But I thought that was a little too “Elizabeth Bennett”!


Anonymous said...

I reckon the tone is ok. A small point: the 'less' at the end of the fourth paragraph ought to be a 'fewer'.

slurry said...

Good letter, I think the system is designed to send you mad, I have made several complaints, then complaints on top of them, it makes me so angry in the end i loose the will to live. In the past I have made complaints and a copy has ended up in my notes!! which is a big no no, they are all to busy covering their collective ass's and forget what the complaint was about in the first place! there are many of us out here that "share your pain"!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Anonymous, it’s those kind of tips that I really need! Please don’t feel that you’re being picky if you notice any other wording that you think ought to be altered. I have also added another sentence to the beginning of the last paragraph.

Slurry, I couldn’t agree with you more. Only today I was thinking about their stupid “complaints procedure”, no doubt designed so that by the time you reach anyone who has the ability to make any changes you’re emotionally and mentally too exhausted to continue. I don’t take any notice of any of that nonsense (as you have probably noticed) and prefer to just write to the people at the top in the first place – not that it seems to help much; the result seems to be exactly the same (as in, no result) just a different process.

Yes, it doesn’t surprise me that your complaints have been filed in your medical notes. I seemed to have acquired a “reputation” for writing letters of complaint, even though I had actually only written one at the time, and a doctor asked me as the wife of a patient to write a letter of complaint about something he didn’t agree with at the hospital! (Which actually gives me hope that although my complaint was swept under the carpet, it must have had some kind of impact.)

Mr Mans Wife said...

I have added another paragraph to the end of the letter.

Anonymous said...

Go Girl, I like that, I like that a lot. These people need a reality check. Really hope you`re a catalyst for change and you`ve found the process cathartic.


Mr Mans Wife said...

Thanks OSB.
During my delusional phases I have visions of taking on the whole lot of them and reducing them all to quivering wrecks, but unfortunately when my own reality check kicks in I realise how pointless the whole exercise was in the first place.

I feel that I have to send this letter because pride won’t allow me to leave people believing I was wrong when I wasn’t, but I have no idea what sort of response I will receive – I’m sure the Chairman’s pride is greater than my own and I don’t expect him to back down and apologise that easily. I’m left wondering what direction this whole thing will take, and where will it end?

Probably with me in counselling again. Lucky for me I’m already on the waiting list.

Anonymous said...


Send it and be proud.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Oh. Umm... Thanks Anonymous. :)

Angela said...

I think it's a good letter MMW, I'm really impressed that you managed to keep out "And I hope you all die!" :)

Be proud of yourself for standing up and making your points, so many poeple don't or are unable to, and you do it so eloquently. I'm sure the sweeping under the carpet tactic works on some people, so I'm glad you aren't letting him and are also copying in the others so they can be given the full story, not what the Chairman would like them to believe.


Mr Mans Wife said...

LOL, yes the medication seems to be working! :D

Thank you Angela. You're right; so many people are unable to stand up to these people.

I suppose a lot of the anger I feel is because my complaint in 2002 was so neatly swept under the carpet, and I suppose they felt they had "won" even though they were in the wrong. I just feel so angry that they're trying to do the same thing to me again.

I can't help but feel uneasy though; I know these people always like to have the last word on the matter and I'm worried that I may be a little out of my depth.

Mental Nurse said...

I think it is a wonderful letter Mr Wife.

I suspect that as you argue your case with accuracy, passion and and razor sharp analysis the trust will simply try and give you the brush off.

Just had an idea ... will email you.


Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you for your compliments on the letter Mental Nurse, but "the trust will simply try and give you the brush off"? Was that supposed to cheer me up? :)

Malcolmroff said...

Nice one.....keep writing, keep complaining, don't let the bastards grind you down. You seem to have had a typical response from a Trust Chairman. They hope that you will be placated and just go away.

I'd have some questions for the chair person. I would like to know who is really investigating the complaint given that the response is factually inaccurate and whether they are actually up to the task?...often the NHS uses the manager of the criticised service to investigate the complaint and they may even write the letter for the chair who then just signs it. The complaints manager sometimes oversees the process rather than investigates it. So I would like to know what will be done to ensure that the complaints procedure is improved to ensure that complaints are accurately investigated.

I don't know if you have been yet, or have the chance to, but Trust Board meetings are open to the public. Go, if you can, and show your face. It's easy for them to to hide behind job descriptions and letters, but harder to lie when you are looking into the eyes of someone who really cares.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thank you Malcolmroff. I am starting to feel ground down (can you tell?)

The thing is, my letter was never really meant to be a complaint about any of the services or people providing them. I was just complaining about cut backs of the services, which I didn’t think would be handled in the same way as a complaint usually would be. But now I actually feel like making an official complaint about the way I’ve just been lied to and fobbed off!

Don’t even get me started on how complaints are investigated. I have enough to say about that when I finally get round to writing about my complaint in 2002.

It’s funny that you should mention going to the Trust Board meetings; I had an email earlier today from someone suggesting a similar thing. As I said to her though, “I’m not being modest when I say I really am not eloquent at all when I speak”. I really enjoy writing, and I find it much easier to express myself in writing, but you wouldn’t believe how long it takes me to write a blog post or a letter. I suppose I’m just one of those people that needs extra time to gather my thoughts.

Thanks for your suggestions though; I appreciate your comments (and everyone else’s). Thank you for the encouragement to keep going.

Malcolmroff said...

Better still! Just go and stare at them in silence!

Mr Mans Wife said...

Lol, ummm yeah, that could work! I actually have a little bit of a reputation for my scarey glares. My Mum says I get it from my Nan. How on earth did you know about that?

*Mr Mans Wife notices the date*

Doodoo doodoo doodoo doodoo... (that's the theme to the twilight zone)

Slurry said...

Just picking up on the point about trust board meetings, at ours they request all questions to be asked are submiited in writting about a week before the meeting, I think thats one way to get round it if you dont enjoy public speaking. I asume most trusts are the same.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Thanks Slurry, I didn't reslise that. I've never even heard of these meetings taking place, although I suppose that's what that application form for the NHS Trust was for. I'm a bit reluctant to get too involved. It's tempting, but I can't help feeling I have enough do to as it is - I'm having trouble finding time for blog reading and writing already!

Seaneen said...

No advice, but you have my support. Bloody hell.


Mr Mans Wife said...

Thanks Seaneen, I really appreciate that.

Sandi said...

Hello there. I am also a wife of a man with schizophrenia. Reading your blog with interest.
I will be back.

Mr Mans Wife said...

Hi there Sandi. Thank you for reading, and welcome to my blog. I hope to see more comments from you soon. :)