Lengthy waiting lists, a feeling that “nobody listens” and a lack of hospital beds is impacting the quality of care people with mental health conditions in Croydon receive, according to a patient watchdog.

A Healthwatch Croydon report into mental health care in the borough revealed patients were waiting up to 18 months for specialist psychological services, with one family left in limbo for waiting more than two years after referral.

It also found that patients and carers often feel they are not involved in decisions about treatment and that, once sectioned, patients are being offered specialists beds as far away as Scotland.

One mother, who did not wish to be named, said it was “frustrating and dangerous” that medics often wouldn’t tell her about her schizophrenic daughter’s treatment plans, despite the fact she was her carer.

The woman, a former Croydon teacher, said it took seven years for her daughter to be diagnosed, adding: “It was a long, long battle with medics to persuade them there was something actually wrong with her.

“I do feel that it if doctor-patient confidentiality is overused, carers are in a slightly different position from the man next door, because we are looking after this person.

“At one point I was looking after my mother, who had dementia, and my daughter and nobody in the medical profession had a problem talking to me about my mother but everybody had a problem talking to me about my daughter, because she was deemed to have capacity.

“We need to know the psychiatrist caring for our daughter or son or husband or wife, we need to know what medication he or she is on, we need to know the side-effects of that medication, we need to know who to contact in a crisis.”

According to the report, one-in-six adults in Croydon will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life, lower than the Mental Health Foundation’s estimated national average of one-in-four.

Charlie Ladyman, chief executive of Healthwatch Croydon, said: “There needs to be a significant improvement in waiting lists, better communication between patients, carers and providers, and a priority on admitting people locally, where they can be supported more effectively by friends and family.”

A spokesman for South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the borough’s metal health care provider, said: “Long waiting times for some patients are unacceptable, especially for children and adolescents, and do not reflect the standard offered by the trust in the other London boroughs we serve.

“The waiting times highlighted in the report relate to specialist secondary psychological services in Croydon – and not people who need support in a crisis, or those seeking help from our teams in the community.”

Are you a carer for someone with mental health problems? Email andrea.downey@newsquest.co.uk