Haroon Siddique of the Guardian reports:
Large numbers of people with mental health issues are ending up in A&E wards because of “system failure”, according to leaked minutes of a government-attended steering group.
The meeting heard that people with mental illness are presenting themselves at emergency wards because of inadequate provision for them in the community.
The minutes from the mental health crisis care concordat steering group, attended by health minister Norman Lamb, suggest that the failure to treat mental health patients properly is contributing to pressure at A&E wards in NHS hospitals in England, which have missed the target of 95% of people to be seen within four hours for 93 weeks in a row.
Responding to the leaked document minutes, Rethink Mental Illness chief executive, Mark Winstanley, said community mental health services were “badly funded and overstretched”.
He added: “This has to change because it’s costing lives. Everyone should be able to get access to a hospital bed close to home whenever they need it, no matter where they live or what their circumstances. We also need the next government to urgently invest in community mental health care, like crisis and early intervention services, otherwise the system will continue to fail people with mental illness.”
The steering group also discussed a lack of beds in mental health wards, resulting in people being transported to different areas of the country to be admitted. The minutes recorded: “The issue is particularly acute for children and young people, but also affects adults and there may be unlawful detention as they run out of time to find beds.”
Concerns have previously been raised that patients may be being sectioned under the Mental Health Act – which should only happen when they are a risk either to themselves or others – because of a belief that it may make provision of a bed more likely.
Why did these minutes have to be leaked?
Shame on duplicitous Norman Lamb. As we’ve said all along the Crisis Care Concordat is really the Cashless Concordat. When the truth comes out, Norman Lamb is nowhere to be seen.
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