NHS Watchdog bids to boost care of Self-harmers

Hafal welcomes the publication of a report on 28 July by the NHS treatments watchdog, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, stating that the 170,000 people a year who attend hospital after deliberately harming themselves should be treated with the same care, respect and privacy as any other patient.

Professor Paul Lelliott, Director of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Research Unit, said self-harmers sometimes received a poorer standard of care than other NHS patients, adding “There are still examples of people having wounds stitched without anaesthetic, the idea being ‘well you cut yourself without anaesthetic so why should we use it?’ “.

Mr Richard Lawson, a 37 year old graduate who is a client and volunteer at Hafal’s Swansea project says: “I began hearing voices in 1997 and sought help by visiting my GP. I was told I would have to wait until an appointment could be arranged with a psychiatrist and sent home without any form of treatment or medication. The auditory hallucinations became worse and in my psychotic state I began cutting myself quite severely, all in the belief that by doing so I could alleviate the terrible hallucinations and bouts of psychosis. Eventually, before being voluntarily admitted to hospital as I had sought, I became so ill that I was sectioned into hospital, diagnosed with schizophrenia and detained for four months”.

Bill Walden-Jones, Chief Executive of Hafal said: “It is vitally important to ensure that general health service staff understand the often complex and overwhelming problems which lead people to self-harm. It is scandalous that so many desperate people who have self-harmed are treated and sent home without any attempt to help them with their mental health problems.”