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EADT Front Page: ‘It’s scandalous’ – Campaigners slam broken promises after mental health patients sent hundreds of miles away

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Emily Townsend of the East Anglian Daily Times reports:

The situation facing Suffolk and Norfolk’s struggling mental health trust has been dubbed “scandalous” after it emerged patients in crisis are still being sent hundreds of miles away for treatment.

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) has pledged to end out of area placements (OAPs) by 2021, but dozens of people were still being sent to hospitals at least 200km (124 miles) away – and five at least 300km (186 miles) away – over a three-month period last year.

Between September 1 and November 30, there were 2,970 ‘inappropriate’ bed days outside the NSFT’s boundaries – treatment that should have been available locally – with placements costing £1.27m in total.

That was up from 1,365 bed days in the same period in 2017.

Campaigners are now criticising what they claim are a string of broken promises.

“It is scandalous that, despite many promises to stop the transportation of people in mental health crisis many miles away from families, friends and professionals they know, the situation has become much worse,” said a spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Suffolk and Norfolk.

“Whether the beds crisis is caused by inadequate beds or failing and under-resourced community teams, what these terrible figures show is that mental health services are under-funded and under-performing.”

Commitments to stop sending patients away for treatment have been made before – in January 2014, NSFT bosses pledged to end OAPs within four months.

This target, and two others with goals of October 2017 and March 2018, were all missed – so a new one was set for 2021 in April last year.

Yet according to the newly published figures, from NHS Digital, the number of NSFT patients moved at least 200km away but under 300km trebled from 10 in September-November 2017 to 30 in the same period last year.

One Suffolk mother, who spoke out in the week health inspectors uncovered a litany of failings at the NSFT in November 2018, said her daughter had been moved to a unit in Bury near Manchester – more than 200 miles away – from February to May last year.

Campaigners added: “It is incredible that 30 people were sent 200km or more from home when they needed support most.

“We know that people have to be really unwell to get an admission to a mental health bed and many of them would not have deteriorated if not for the savage cuts to mental health services.”

To read the article in full, and the latest version of the delayed transfer of care, blah, blah, we’re doing all we can, blah, blah, I’m new, blah, blah, ignore the CQC inspection reports and say and do nothing about reopening enough beds, blah, blah, pay rises for commissioners and executives while cutting front line staff wages, blah, blah, ignore the reality and live on Fantasy Island, blah, blah, excuses, this time from Stuart Richardson, Director of Operations at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), click on the image below to visit the EADT website:

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