Rugby family demand answers after “torturous” experience with mental health service

Yvette Sanderson feels let down by a mental health service who failed to provide adequate support for her teenage daughter.
Yvette Sanderson feels let down by a mental health service who failed to provide adequate support for her teenage daughter.

A teenage girl and her mum have spoken out about their “torturous” experience with a young people’s mental health service in Rugby.

Holly Sanderson, 16, was a patient at CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) in Rugby from the age of 10.

She and her family moved from Rugby to Crick towards the end of last year and were told that Holly would need to transfer to the care of CAMHS in Northampton.

Shortly before the transfer was due to take place, a CAMHS psychiatrist wrote a letter expressing concerns about Holly’s state of mental health and recommended her “prompt referral” to the Northampton branch, said the family.

But following their move, the family said it took five months for Holly - who has a diagnosis of depression - to be transferred from Rugby.

During this time, Holly became increasingly unwell and distressed. Her mum, Yvette Sanderson, said: “If someone had a kidney problem, you wouldn’t just stop their treatment for five months.

“It became a life or death situation for us. It got to a point where I could see us being a front page story because she’d killed herself.

“As a parent, it was torturous. They said Holly’s paperwork must have been lost in the post, so that’s why Northampton couldn’t take her on as a patient.

“They didn’t offer to re-send it. I had to persuade them to send it by email, which they eventually did. But why am I having to chase for answers when I should be spending time helping my daughter?”

Holly said: “Rugby CAMHS was all over the place, and that’s the last thing you need when your mind is all over the place.

“Now we’re in Northampton I can see a clear path and I’m getting better. But that period of time was scary.”

Josie Spencer, deputy chief executive and director of operational services at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by the family and have previously apologised to them.

“We accept we could and should have done more to ensure a smooth transition from services in Rugby to those in Northampton.

“We do have an effective system in place to help people who have moved to another area like this, but it sadly did not happen on this occasion.

“We clearly cannot comment on the specific clinical detail on this case but would be very happy to discuss this further with the family if they wished to do so.”

After hearing these comments, Yvette added: “The trust claim to have an effective system in place but for a diagnosed patient to go months without help is not an ‘effective’ system.

“What measures has the trust put in place to ensure no other sick child falls through its net?

“That is what we have been asking all the time and still we have no answer.”

When the Advertiser asked if any steps had been taken to ensure that Holly’s experience would not be repeated at CAMHS, the trust refused to add to its previous statement.