Side effects are not clear

PATIENTS using mental health services in Northamptonshire claim medics fail to explain of the side effects of prescribed treatments, according to the findings of an annual survey.

Northamptonshire Healthcare Trust received low scores for telling patients about possible side effects, helping them find accommodation, and accessing out-of-hours services.

They were also criticised for failing to give more than 100 patients a care plan and a majority of patients felt they did not have enough say about their care or treatment.

The survey, carried out in August last year, recommended improvements in patient participation in decisions about medication and a thorough review of out-of-hours access arrangements.

Chief executive of the trust, Ron Shields, defended the criticisms and said improvements had been made since the survey was carried out.

He added: "The results of the patient survey were disappointing but in the key areas there should, based on the actions already taken, be demonstrable improvement for the 2006 survey.

"These issues will continue to be monitored."

Some of these improvements have included reducing the number of people without a care plan.

By January 2006 the number of patients without a plan reduced from 104 to 24 since September 2005 in response to the survey. And patients with out-of-date plans were reduced from 237 to 69.

The trust did score well in some areas of the survey including being treated with respect and dignity by their psychiatrist and having confidence in the community psychiatric nurse.

And despite problems with accessing crisis services, due to patients not having a telephone number, 91 per cent of patients said they would use the service again.

The report commented: "The value of the service to the people who used it cannot be underestimated. Consistently the evidence indicates people are feeling listened to, respected and staff are professional, friendly and courteous.

"People commented that the teams had enabled them to regain control, have courage and obtain inner strength.There are examples of people who look upon the team as saving their lives."