This is what treatment for a broken leg would be like if physical health services were the same as mental health services.
Imagine that you trip and hurt your leg. You go to your GP because it seems quite bad, but you’re not sure it warrants a trip to A&E. The GP agrees that it looks bad and suggests you get further help from their new ‘Leg Injury Service’, and she gives you a number to phone. In the meantime your doctor gives you a pair of crutches, so that you can get about. You struggle home and ring the number. An appointment is made for a month’s time.
At your appointment with the Leg Injury Service, the specialist asks why you’ve come and you explain that you fell and hurt your leg. She asks you to fill in a form about how your leg injury is affecting your life. The specialist says it looks like you’ve broken your leg, and then goes on to describe how the service works. You’ll need to go on one of their leg injury prevention courses, before any intensive treatment is available.
You ask if the specialist is going to do anything about your leg, but she says that the courses are a really important part of the process and can’t be missed. She asks you to trust the process and will see you again in two weeks. She adds that if you show your commitment to getting better by going on the courses, you are more likely to get one-on-one treatment for your broken leg. At home, you look at the website and choose the ‘Avoiding trips and falls’ course and return for your next appointment.
You are asked to fill out the same form again, and the specialist says that your scores aren’t really all that bad, and you seem to be coping fine with a broken leg. You agree that you are getting quite good on your crutches and your arms are getting very strong, but your leg hurts and is healing crooked. The specialist says that you really should try the course and see how it goes. It starts in two months time – three months from your accident. As you hobble home, you decide that you can manage by yourself.
By Kate McDonnell, Bath Mind Chair