It's been an absolute age since I last went to someone in the process of being sectioned.
For those of you not well versed in English law as it pertains to mental illness a 'section' refers to a part of the Mental Health Act 1983. Most often it is used to describe admitting someone for mental health assessment against their will. The section that I most often come across is the police using Section 136 which enables them to remove to hospital the naked man running down the street screaming that he is off to kill the aliens who are putting thoughts in his head.
Don't laugh, it's happened.
But on this day we were sent to two 'Section Two' cases, people with a mental illness who are a danger to themselves or others. These are often a bit of a circus to be honest, you have a social worker (and probably their backup), two doctors (and sometimes their drivers) a stack of police (normally around six, it case it all 'kicks off') and an ambulance crew. There is a lot of hanging around on street corners waiting for these various people to arrive. You also have all the neighbourhood turning off their 'Jeremy Kyle Show' and instead putting chairs out in front of their houses to better watch the show.
Not good if the patient is distressed already. But then, that Bedlam spirit of gaining entertainment from the mentally ill has never really gone away.
I have no idea why you need an ambulance to take a physically well person to hospital. There are two ways that a Section two job goes – either the patient agrees to go to hospital (and can therefore travel in a car) or they refuse, in which case the safest place for them to be is in the back of a police van. I have no idea why it needs an ambulance to take this patient to hospital at the cost of £400+ in addition to removing an ambulance from frontline duties. While we are doing this we could have been dealing with the mental health patient who can't wait for an appointment. If the patient decides to get violent you find yourself struggling in the back of a van with loads of equipment that can be broken or used as weaponry.
But, at the end of the day, it's often an easy job – even if we are just being used as a very expensive taxi.
At both jobs the patients decided to come into hospital of their own accord, which is nicer for everyone. At the first job the Social Worker in control said, “Oh – I'm glad we didn't have to wait for you” to me and then wandered off – no-one thought that it would be helpful to tell the taxi driver anything about the patient.
At the second job we didn't even get that – the patient walked out, the Social Worker managed to string the words. “He he is – I'm driving back on my own” together and then vanished. Under a Section Two we aren't supposed to transport without an escort, so a police officer was pressed into service. Again the patient was fine the whole way, but it did seem that the receiving ward had forgotten that he was coming in that day.
I love to see that whole 'synergy between healthcare professionals in a multi-disciplinary, multi-pathway in an ethnically aware process' thing happening.
I'm not prejudiced, my dislike of social workers is based on experience – if I meet some who are good at their job and polite to me then I may amend my position.
I'm still waiting though…