Patient crisis help needed, says charity

A MENTAL health charity is highlighting a ‘critical opportunity’ to improve services for crisis patients in Chichester.

With responsibility for commissioning services passing to clinical commissioning groups in April, Mind, a mental health charity, is campaigning for the group to concentrate on the type of services mental health patients need.

A Chichester resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, has her own experience of crisis care 
in Chichester.

“A mental health crisis is frightening and can be life-threatening – you need help, urgently, just as you would in a physical emergency,” 
she said.

“Crisis care in Chichester matters less than making the local psychiatric unit into a prison. Centurion mental health unit is now forensic, and there are only 16 beds left for mental health patients, who stay the correct side of the law, around the Chichester district.

“Mental health patients in crisis get sent anywhere, a scary prospect when unwell, and it leaves people frightened and miles from friends and family.

“I spent five days stuck in a strange place alone when I most needed my family. I didn’t even have any clean clothes or even a toothbrush.

“Crisis care by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is non-existent and puts lives at risk.”

Tom Insley, mental health lead at Coastal West Sussex CCG, said: “Supporting people during a crisis is a vital part of the help that needs to be available – and we are working hard to make sure the right services are available.

“There are hospital beds available but it is recognised by health professionals, people who need mental health services and their families, this is often a last resort. Right now, we are working to introduce a new specialist service for people in and around Chichester.”