Support for patients under fire

PUBLISHED: 16:38 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 25 August 2010

A MENTAL health survey has said an NHS trust s community care services for patients are among the poorest in the country.

A MENTAL health survey has said an NHS trust's community care services for patients are among the poorest in the country.

In a national questionnaire sent to mental health patients, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLAM) was placed among the worst 20 per cent for providing community support.

The Healthcare Commission's snapshot of patient satisfaction, released last Thursday, asked 850 patients from each trust 38 questions about their care. In half the questions, including "Did you find your therapy helpful", SLAM was rated as one of the worst performing trusts in the UK.

Around 5,000 patients are treated each year at sites such as Bethlem Royal Hospital in Orchard Road, Beckenham, but the trust must also help 25,000 outreach patients.

Fewer than half the patients said the trust gave their family enough support and fewer than 35 per cent said they had help finding work or support groups.

Patients said that, while their psychiatrists treated them with respect and dignity, they found support health workers were less attentive.

The trust scored well in telling patients about the side-effects of drugs but failed to give a copy of a care plan to more than half its patients.

A SLAM spokesman said the trust would take the survey seriously but looks to rolling out its own feedback handsets in October to get a broader set of views.

He said: "The annual survey includes a relatively small proportion of the people who use our services."

Oxleas NHS Trust, serving Bexley, Greenwich and Bromley, performed better than SLAM, coming in the bottom 20 per cent of trusts on just four questions.

The trust excelled particularly in its counselling, but admitted it must improve information provided to carers and patients' families.

Fewer than four in ten patients said their family had had enough support or that they had received help finding work in the last 12 months.

An Oxleas spokesman said: "Since we have employed a trust carer lead satisfaction rates have increased by five per cent for both information and support from 2007.

"This is encouraging but shows we need to continue to focus our efforts to improve the support we offer to carers and families."

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