SPECIAL REPORT: ‘I’ve got no more tears left’
Months of months of turmoil and sleepless nights — which one south Norfolk family believe is down to their postcode.
Nick and Maxine Fulcher, of North Lopham, claim for months they have been trying to get help for their son, 19-year-old Kieran, who was diagnosed with autism in October of last year.
Since moving to City College, Norwich, to study towards the end of last year, they claim he has “drastically gone down hill.” He has begun to harm himself, is not eating properly, tried to throw himself out of his parents’ moving car, and is no longer the “happy, lovely young man” they once knew.
The Fulchers say that due to the fact they have an IP postcode but live across the border, the situation has become “muddled”, have had little help, and have made numerous calls for many months in a bid to get their son back at home with the care he needs.
They say it has taken months for their son to see a psychiatrist, and while they see a Norfolk County Council social worker, following an assessment they were told they would be referred to a mental health trust which, due to their postcode, would be in Suffolk.
They feel there has been a breakdown in services across Norfolk and Suffolk, resulting in their current situation.
“As a last resort, I said to my wife ‘this is it, we are going to West Suffolk Hospital (Bury St Edmunds), we are going to sit there until he is admitted’.”
Following a nine-hour wait, he was placed in a psychiatric unit at Bury. He has subsequently been moved to a facility in Ipswich.
“We wanted to do it so he can’t harm himself,” he explained. “We needed someone to look after him.
“These things are going to have to stop. People are going to die.
“I can’t cry anymore, I’ve got no more tears left. The last three or four months have been torment.
“It’s been a nightmare, a rollercoaster. I’ve had to do everything on my own to get him where he is. When you get up, you just don’t know if he going to let off steam and rant and rave and come towards you, but it’s not his fault.”
Mr Fulcher said in an ideal world, his son would be back at home.
“We want him back home, this is where he belongs,” he said. “The amount of tears we shed when we had to leave our son was unbelievable. He has never, ever spent a night away from this house.
“If you are on a IP postcode (and live in Norfolk) you are in trouble.
“We have a right when we are physically ill, if you break a leg and need an x-ray, you can go to Norwich or Bury. Why can’t we have the same principle in mental health?”
Alison Armstrong, Director of Operations (Suffolk), at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are really sorry to hear that this family feels their son’s access into our services has taken longer than expected.
“We were unaware of their concerns and we will be in touch with the family directly to explain how they can have their concerns heard. It is not appropriate to comment via the media in relation to confidential patient matters.”
The Trust was placed into special measures earlier this year following a Care Quality Commission report.