My PP story, part 3

Hello everyone,

I thought I would give you an update on how I am getting on. For those of you who are new to this site, these are my first two posts:

1: app-network.healthunlocked....


You'll be glad to know I finally submitted my complaint to the Ombudsman at the beginning of October. It took me a lot longer because as my advocate, my CAB adviser and I were all working on it, I received my medical records as well as case notes from social work regarding my daughter and myself. And these shed a whole new light on the situation and added a lot more weight to my complaint. But there was so much information to make sense of that I had to pace myself and watch my stress levels.

For instance, on admission, 3 different people (2 psychiatrists and a mental health assessment nurse) all wrote 'psychotic episode' in their respective diagnosis box but Dr M (the psychiatrist who misdiagnosed with PD and discharged me) just ignored them and Dr K, her boss, claimed he found 'no evidence of psychotic illness' when he read my medical notes. He either didn't read them or missed the pages in question or he's lying.

You may remember that at our meeting, I had asked Dr M why Dr T, my current psychiatrist, had been able to diagnose me retrospectively with PP. She'd said that he'd had the benefit of hindsight and had selectively picked out references to suit that diagnosis. In fact, my notes are full of reports describing my behaviour as odd, chaotic, hysterical, paranoid, disoriented, bizarre, strange, disorganised, etc. Dr T did not pick references out, he actually summarises them. How Dr K was able to miss these reports is everyone's guess. Speaking of Dr K, I made a Freedom of Information request to my Health Board to check his claim that it wouldn't be possible to identify the nurses on shift and found that nursing rotas are legal documents which must be kept for 2 years for various purposes, including investigations. We are still within the 2 year limit now and in any case, Dr K's investigation was allegedly carried out in the spring. Interesting, isn't it?

Then there are the notes from social work. On some level, they have been useful in that many entries support my case. For example, there is my conversation with my daughter's social worker 3 hours before I left the hospital. 2 pages of me saying things like “I am not Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “I don't anyone to get hurt” or “The Home Office has all my details”. There are also entries regarding communication with ward staff who were completely aware that I didn't want to leave and were considering getting security to remove me (so if my friends hadn't been there, I would have been manhandled out of the hospital!!!!!). They were also totally aware of my friends' concerns but instead of taking them seriously, a nurse told social services that this may be why I was anxious and refusing to leave. Which is ridiculous, I was in my room all day and so unwell at that point, I had no idea what was going on, let alone that my friends were even on the ward trying to get people to listen to them.

The notes from the mental health department of social work about the various calls from my very worried friends at that time are equally enlightening. You can sense the sheer panic and despair as they talked to social work about the situation: “unable to do anything for herself”, “shouldn't be alone”, “unable to make good decisions at present”, “has known Anne for 10 years and feels strongly that she should not be discharged home”, “inappropriate home discharge”; “hardly slept at all and appeared very irrational, paranoid and distressed”, “behaving as if she was unaware of where she was and where she was going”, “the Hospital had discharged her friend Anne when she was still clearly ill”; “not in a fit state of mind to be safely discharged home”.

So I now have a whole new complaint on my hands. For a start, the way these calls were handled was absolutely appalling. Social services refused to believe my friends' concerns and even with first-hand evidence that I was unwell, as my phone conversation with my daughter's social worker showed, no one actually rang Dr M and asked her “are you sure?”. And so they made a series of decisions about my access to my little girl based on Dr M's mistake, painting me as a dangerous and manipulative woman in denial about her personality disorder (yes, they actually use these very words and not just once).

Then, obviously, they refused to believe me when I told them the diagnosis of PD had been a mistake and they continued to liaise with Dr M (who remained confident) although she was no longer my consultant at that point - Dr T was and he had reversed her misdiagnosis. Funny how my daughter's social worker did not feel he had an ethical duty to phone Dr M when my mental health had blatantly reached crisis point as he first rang me but he did decide to phone her the following months, once I was no longer psychotic and whenever he wanted to confirm with her that I had never been mentally unwell, I just had a dysfunctional personality. And then there is the way he ignored my pleas not to close my daughter's case before I had returned to the UK and proved I had had a psychosis and did not suffer from a personality disorder. And when Dr T got in touch with him, confirming that Dr M's diagnosis was incorrect, he refused to reopen the case even when faced with the truth. In fact, he told Dr T and myself that I would need to start a new case from scratch and when I did, social work closed it instantly.

As you can imagine, all this has been really difficult to process without getting upset and I had to take a break from it all for a few weeks as I was starting to get really stressed, smoke again and lose sleep. Writing this post is actually the first step in getting back in the swing of things.

The second step will be tomorrow morning. Several entries in the social work notes were redacted because “responsibility for sharing information lies with police”. I made a request to the police and now have to deal with one aspect of what they've sent me: there is actually very little on the incidents I was interested in, only two short pages compared to at least half a dozen page-long sections blackened by marker pen in the social work notes. Until I know what these police reports are about, I can't action any kind of complaint process as social services can turn round and say 'we were acting on information we were given but cannot share with you'.

Then I will need to send off my mammoth case to a charity specialised in medical accidents to see if legally, I could have a case for negligence. I am sending them something very similar to what I sent the Ombudsman but with an extra bit on the material and psychological costs of the misdiagnosis (the Ombudsman is not really interested in anything beyond getting them to admit they made a mistake, apologise and make sure it won't happen again). Writing this extra document is really hard, as I get angry and sad at the same time describing what I had to endure because of the misdiagnosis. I know there is no rush, though, as long as my case is with the Ombudsman, I can't take legal action. But the case is so big and complex that it would be good to send it asap, so that they have plenty of time to get back to me. Seeking legal advice does not count as legal action.

I know the Ombudsman are processing my complaint in a timely manner as I get regular updates from my reviewer who seems to be quite competent. But he did say it could take 6 months. Another thing is that the Ombudsman won't look at the actual way my complaint was initially handled by the NHS, Dr M and her boss, Dr K. This is really annoying because that was an integral part of my case. Both Dr M and Dr K had been intimidating, patronising and defensive at our meeting. And as I say in my Ombudsman form, “inaccurate information was given verbally then as well as in writing in Dr K's letters” - a polite way of saying “they were lying through their teeth”. So I guess this side of things might have to be handled by a solicitor instead.

Last but not least, I am also impatiently waiting on the Ombudsman's decision because if I am successful, a formal apology will really help me in securing shared custody of my daughter. At the moment, I have her 2 nights and 2 days a week and whilst this is a lot better than it ever used to be, my ex is very reluctant to let me have her more. Yet another legal battle on my hands...

Thank you so much for reading and generally being there. As always, any advice, suggestion, thought or word of wisdom would be welcome at this stage.

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11 Replies

  • Hi AnneMR33

    Thanks so much for sharing Part 3 of your journey. It’s good to hear from you and I'm really pleased you are keeping us up-to-date about how you are getting on.

    I hope you are doing ok considering everything you are going through. I'm going to send another reply later but just wanted you to know I'll be in touch this evening. I am at work at the minute so will log on again soon.

    Know that we are all here for you throughout your journey. I will be in touch again later.

    Emma. x

  • Hi AnneMR33,

    Sorry I have taken a while to reply back. I wanted to read through Parts 1 and 2 again to remind me of everything that has happened to you since the birth in 2011.

    I cannot believe what you have had to go through in such a short space of time. I find it so amazing that you are continuing to fight. Do not give up even though I know some days you probably feel like you want to. Keep going and know that you can always ask everyone on here for guidance, support and advice. We will try and help support you as much as we can.

    Your story is so complex and there's so much to it and many different people are involved in your case. I'm not sure if you have done a timeline which includes the dates and a summary of what happened. This may help to put everything in a chronological order. This may be useful for when you send something to the charity specialised in medical accidents. I find it useful to have a timeline of dates as it is easy to refer back to. It may be a good idea to say how you felt physically, mentally and emotionally too. As you say it may be that you need a solicitor to handle your case. It may be worth looking in to.

    Keep us posted as to what the Ombudsman's decision is going to be. I'll be thinking of you and will be keeping my fingers crossed.

    I'm really pleased that you spend two nights and two days a week with your daughter. I know you must want more but remember how far you have come and the progress you have made. You should feel very proud of yourself.

    Thinking of you loads. Please let us know the outcome of your complaint.

    Take care.

    Emma. x

  • Hi Emma, thank you for your feedback and support.

    Yes, I have a "chronological summary of events" as well as a more detailed version of it which I used for my complaint. And you're right, my story is very complex, with so many agencies involved and aspects to it. Thanks for reading through the whole thing all over again, must have taken you ages!

    Quite a few things have happened in the last 3 weeks. It turns out social services duplicated police reports in their notes so they should not hold information that I do not hold myself.

    I've heard back from my Ombudsman reviewer who has decided my complaint needed to be transferred to their invistigating team, which in all likelihood means my complaint will be upheld as a thorough independent investigation was precisely one of the things I asked for. I mean, if they didn't think they were going to uphold my complaint, they wouldn't bother, right?

    I also sent off my case to the medical negligence charity (can I name them?) and a medico-legal adviser got back to me really quickly assessing I had a case and passing it on to a local solicitor specialised in that sort of claim. I am totally impressed by how fast and competent the advisor has been, accurately summarising about 150 pages of information and enclosures in one A4 page and then giving me precise and relevant advice on what is to happen next, for exemple "it would be for an independent psychiatrist with sight of the relevant documents and an opportunity to examine you to give an authoritative opinion as to whether the diagnosis of personality disorder and/or the decision to discharge you were not only incorrect but decisions that no reasonable psychiatrist would have made on the basis of the history and presentation".

    Then I sought legal advice about my situation with my daughter and it may actually be easier to ask for a new hearing than I initially thought.I think both my ex and social services may have slightly distorted the truth regarding the outcome of the last hearing. I need more info and advice on that point still but will be sure to keep you updated.

    Thanks again for reading and all your supportive comments and advice. I know you said I should be proud of myself, but I can't take all the credit, this APP community really has helped me, when you've had something like PP and my experience of it was quite extreme, having such a space to communicate with people who understand and are on your side is just priceless. Thank you again. Anne x

  • Hi Anne it was good to hear of all the progress, it all sounds like positive tentative steps on lots of fronts... please keep us updated if you can... good luck with it all..x

  • Hi it was good to read your post with the update. Sorry I have only just replied. I was relying on my email to tell me when there was a new post, but they didn't for some reason with this one. the way you keep fighting, your persistence, strength and bravery is amazing. keep at it, as you say you're doing it to get joint custody of your daughter. I'm really glad you are seeing your daughter for two days and nights, though I'm sure it doesn't feel enough. I am just gob smacked about what happened to you, it makes me so angry. Especially as it has become clearer how badly treated you were, how professionals didn't listen to your friends concerns, how the psychiatrist ignored or didn't bother to read other mental health professionals notes. It's just unbelievable. Thinking of you, and please keep us up to date.


  • Hi Ellie,

    Thank you for your reply. I wonder if that's because I made the post visible only to members, I've edited it now to make it public so hopefully will get more feedback. It's good to read my anger is shared by others. Sometimes my anger turns to sadness too when I think of what my daughter and I had to go through because a psychiatrist and her team thought they knew me better than close friends - including 2 GPs!!!! - who had known me for over a decade. I've made some progress in the last 3 weeks and will talk about it in my reply to Emma above if you're interested. Thanks again for your feedback and support. Anne x

  • Hi Anne

    Just wanted to catch up with you and see what's been happening. Its a while since I last sent you a message and I didn't want you to think we'd forgotten about you.

    Hope you managed to have a nice Christmas and New Year even though you have so much going on?

    Did you manage to get any more advice about the hearing and the situation with your daughter? Not sure about naming the medical negligence charity, don't worry about that though. They sound very on the ball.

    I'm really glad that you have this community too and know that people on here are available for you to contact when you need advise and support. It is a great community and we want to be able to help where we can.

    Speak soon.

    Emma x

  • Hi Emma,

    many thanks for touching base. I got more advice re. the situation with my daughter and I now have legal representation. A letter was sent to my ex-partner, which he received today, I think (I received a copy this morning so assume both letters were sent at the same time). The letter outlines what I want (50/50) and suggests he gets formal legal advice. According to my solicitor, he'd be hard pushed to find a family lawyer who'd advise him that my request was in any way unreasonable. I - and others - have been worried that he might remove the contact I already have out of spite (and because he worked so hard to convince me that going down the legal route was a waste of time/money/energy) but realistically I don't think he'd be so stupid. It would look VERY bad in court if he did that.

    I probably should mention that he was actually never awarded permanent custody as I initially believed. It's actually a temporary order and the case was in fact suspended and could be reopened again with minimal fuss. As you can imagine, I was totally shocked. I went over the social work notes with a fine-tooth comb and found the entry on the date of the hearing: my ex partner calls my daughter's social worker to say he'll have custody for the time being "until Ms F (me) contacts the court". This is a far cry from what I was told by him and the social worker, the gist of which was I'd have to appeal an effectively final and permanent decision and start a whole new case from scratch. The whole thing was presented as an arduous task given the grounds on which the decision was made: I was a very bad person and unfit mother, and given what I'd said and done, a threat to my baby's life.

    Unfortunately, the way my ex partner has mislead me will have no impact on the judge's decision as the court's primary concern will be my little girl's best interests. But in some way or another, I will have to address social work's role in this. I'm still in the process of figuring out what and how, but I think there is an ethical issue that needs to be looked at:

    First, the social worker made it clear he wholeheartedly supported the court's decision based on his view that I was a dangerous individual who should not be left alone with my own child. Although he never formally assessed me. Of course, any attempt on my part to tell him otherwise was taken as further proof of my inherent badness and "denial" about my disordered personality. So the overall impression was that legally, I didn't stand a chance and I really ought to be grateful for the scraps of supervised contact (two hours once a month!) I was given at all.

    Second, in another twisted interpretation of the truth, he emphasises how I didn't want to go back to court at the time, when he had refused to help me in any way, done his level best to misrepresent the outcome of the hearing, misinform me on my parental rights and ultimately deter me from starting legal proceedings. I was severely depressed, repeatedly told I deserved to be separated from my daughter and keen to please my ex so as to see her as often as I could but he sees my reluctance to go back to court as yet more evidence I was not interested in my baby.

    Anyway, I am still waiting to hear from the Ombudsman re. the misdiagnosis, they update me regularly and are still investigating. I've not met the medical negligence lawyer yet but there is no rush since as long as the Ombudsman deals with the case, we can't do anything legally. I am currently focusing on my application for a part-time course which I'm really excited about. Once I've handed that in and the situation with my daughter is sorted or well on its way to be sorted, I'll tackle the whole social work issue. I will keep you informed of my progress. Thank you so much for reading, your kind words and support. Once again, any feedback or idea would be much appreciated!

    Take care,

    Anne x

  • Hi Anne really great to hear the update and the progress you're making...I really hope that you get 50/50 contact with your daughter very soon... I will be thinking of you a lot, please update us with any changes if and when you want to... I am still completely gobsmacked by how badly you've been treated by so many professionals - the social worker sounds appalling you said maybe concentrate on that next when contact with your daughter is sorted... it is amazing that you are persisting and following up on getting justice etc - it probably is important, if you feel able and have the emotional energy etc, as I am sure other people are affected by the bad practice as well...

    Take care

    Ellie X

  • Hi Ellie!

    Thank you very much reading my update. Yes, it is shocking, isn't it? It took me a long time to get my head round it all. The day I received social work's first set of notes, for instance, I read some of it on my way to work and was so taken aback, I left my handbag on the bus (thankfully I got it back) and I'm not generally a ditsy person at all.

    One of the last times I saw my CPN (who was very good and I miss him a lot now that I've been discharged from the community team), he made an interesting point: he said that if he, as an employee of the public sector, had been found to keep innacurate and disparaging records about anyone like the social worker had done, he would face disciplinary action.

    So yes, I will fight, once I've sorted my contact with my daughter, because like you, I think there might be other cases out there. In fact, I know there is, have you heard about this Italian lady with bipolar who was forced to deliver by C-section and separated from her baby by social services in Essex?

    Obviously in many ways, this is very different and more extreme than what happened to me but there are striking similarities: the mental health breakdown and like her, I am foreign-born. I may be a naturalised Brit but I am still a foreigner in their eyes, someone who can be sent back to where she originally belonged (but we'll keep the baby here, thank you very much) and whose view will never have as much as weight as, say, my ex-partner, in perfect mental health and a native... male.

    Because on top of prejudices against the mentally ill and 'foreigners', I think there were deep-rooted sexist assumptions too. Women who disclose abuse (and there was abuse, some of it may have been distorted by PP but most of it happened before I gave birth) are often viewed as malicious and manipulative by services, especially in the context of separation and child contact. Like with anything that goes on behind closed doors, it's easier to disbelieve and cast the blame on the all-too-often female victim: she must have provoked him, she's making it up, she's trying to get the upper hand in custody proceedings, she's using the child(ren) to get at him, etc.

    And last but not least, there's the way I didn't seem to exist in relation to anybody else but HIM. Both the NHS and social work dismissed what my friends had to say and solely based themselves on his opinion, as if our relationship prevailed over who I had become over the years to others, well before I'd met him: former flatmate and close friend or previous live-in nanny and honorary daughter. No, I was HIS (foreign) ex- woman and what HE thought was all they needed to know.

    Anyway, I'll stop rambling on now, as you can see, I've somehow managed to rationalise it. It doesn't change what happened and how much I suffered as a result but it does stop me from getting overly and counterproductively emotional. It gives me enough strength and clarity to carry on and hopefully obtain justice. I owe it to myself and to my little girl, who, when she grows up, might have to face similar prejudices.

    Thank you so much again for being there, your virtual presence and emotional support really make a difference. Having this space to explain the what, how and why is priceless.

    Thanks again,

    Anne x

  • Hi Anne

    Yes I did read about that story of the Italian woman and Essex social services, and was totally shocked. It got a lot of media coverage, and I wonder what has happened to her. Sadly, I think you are probably right, that there is prejudice towards 'foreigners' and also I wonder if there is a reluctance to give the full support (MBU etc) because it's expensive and they think the person isn't British so lets not support as much as we can, though of course this wouldn't be said publicly. It is also interesting, and really sad, what you said about your partner, and the way his version of what happened / was happening was the only one listened to - and other opinions weren't sought or taken seriously. Which is just crazy considering the amount of domestic abuse there is - you'd think professionals would /should have an antennae out for that.

    Yes this forum is amazing, I think it is really helping with the healing, for everyone on here.

    Keep us up to date if and when you can, It will be so great to hear of the day you get the justice you deserve, that perhaps you manage to change something for others, but most important get full access to you daughter...

    Take care

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