In 2003 my son Nick was in his third year of a university course.
In about May of that year he phoned home in a distressed state – he could not go on and had reached a decision that he would not finish the course. He had been skipping classes. He was very upset.
He was obviously not well. I reassured him that I and his mum would come out to him straight away, and help him return home with all his stuff.
At home he could not settle and was much undecided as what to do. Later that year he started telling us some very odd thoughts that were worrying him. We thought it was signs of a mental illness, but he tried to remain positive and kept up a good social life, as far as he could. He did not feel he could take on a job. He would not go and see a doctor. He had certain ‘ideas’ about what was happening to him and why it was a worry.
From the date Nick returned from Uni, it was a about a year until I went to our GP and said what had happened. I said that I thought he had symptoms of a mental illness but that he didn’t want to see a doctor about it becaus of his ‘other ideas’.
The GP said that since Nick was an adult (age 23 at the time) he would have to come and see her himself. As we (parents) were ‘third parties‘ there was nothing the GP could do to help. It turned out to be true, as far as the GP was concerned. She was obviously keen to defend her own ‘problems’ with her interpretation of patient confidentiality but did not want to enlighten us with what common practice was, or what NICE guidelines actually recommended (NICE guidelines being the UK source of Professionally evidenced best medical practice supported by all educated researched and tested methods).
Five and a half years later and after much mental suffering my son was dead. He had taken his own life without ever getting the help that was needed and which was available, but for the ignorance and negligence of local health and social services.
This was a devastating and traumatic event.
I did not know that I was heading for the grossly inadequate and further harassing responses when I asked ‘WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?’
So what was the follow-up? Did I complain?
Quiet naturally, I complained. At that stage I still had some trust left – I like to give people chances to do what they are expected to do. Yet at each stage that trust was diminished, as I discovered that there was no clear route for complaint either against GPs (so-called ‘family’ doctors in the UK), or the National Health Service ‘Trusts’, without coming up against ‘short-change’ in the form of misrepresentation, cover-up, and actual lying. Negligence in Practice showed similar a negligence in investigation.
Having no satisfaction with local responses, I turned to the next step in the procedure by requesting investigation by the body set up by the Government for this very action: The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (the PHSO).