The lack of acute beds available to mental health patients has left the system at breaking point, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said.
Illustrating the scale of the problem, the college said it understood that on one occasion last year there were no beds available for adults in England. It called for action to tackle the problem.
The college president, Simon Wessely, said: “There is mounting evidence – such as the doubling of the number of patients having to be sent out-of-area for care between 2011/12-2013/14 – that there are simply not enough mental health beds available in some areas.
A psychiatrist who did not wish to be named told the Guardian that there were only five acute beds available to mental health patients in the week ending 30 January. NHS England did not respond to the Guardian’s request to verify this statistic.
An investigation by Community Care magazine and the BBC last year found that more than 2,100 mental health beds have closed since April 2011, amounting to a 12% decline in the total number available. It also found that seven people had killed themselves since 2012 after being told there were no hospital beds for them.
With an election just around the corner, after years of vicious cuts and ignoring the crisis in mental health services on his own doorstep:
Care and support minister Norman Lamb said the government had invested £120m to improve care. “We are pleased that NHS England’s guidance to commissioners for 2015/16 is to give real terms funding increases to mental health,” he said.
Even just Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) needs an annual increase of £30 million to restore services to the place they would be if ‘parity of esteem’ meant anything. £120 million nationally is a drop in the ocean in comparison with the years of massive cuts.
How intolerable is Norman Lamb’s repeated use of the words ‘intolerable’ and ‘unacceptable’ when he is the Minister of State at the Department of Health responsible for mental health and his government is the architect of the intolerable and unacceptable situation?
What needs to happen to solve the problem is Norman Lamb’s replacement with a minister good for more than opening chip shops. And immediate and substantial cash.
Click on the image below to read the full story on the Guardian website.