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BBC News: NHS ‘had no mental health beds left’

Nikki Fox of the BBC reports on the meltdown in mental health services:

An NHS trust was told there were no mental health beds available across England, its medical director has said.

Dr Bohdan Solomka told the BBC on Sunday the lack of beds applied across the NHS and among private providers.

This weekend, Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) couldn’t provide a service to those in crisis and put Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs) in an impossible position when there was nowhere in the entire country, private or NHS, for patients in need.

We’ve moved on from an out of area beds crisis to a not even out of area beds crisis. This is a disaster. Yet NHS England restarts the NHS Blame Game rather than demonstrating leadership and taking responsibility:

Dr Bohdan Solomka told the BBC on Sunday the lack of beds applied across the NHS and among private providers.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust medical director’s revelation prompted Norwich MP Clive Lewis to call for delays in planned bed closures.

NHS England said it was up to local NHS commissioners to ensure patients got the care they needed.

Dr Solomka confirmed that up to Sunday night “there were no adult acute inpatient beds in England available to us either from NHS or private providers”.

Clive Lewis MP is right to call this a national disgrace:

In response Mr Lewis, Norwich South MP, called for a suspension of planned bed closures in Norfolk and Suffolk until community services were able to cope with current levels of demand.

He has also asked for an urgent review into the support given to the trust from NHS England and the area’s clinical commissioning groups which fund the beds.

“It’s a national disgrace that there are no mental health beds for those who need them,” Mr Lewis said.

“It is simply unimaginable that in the event of a heart attack someone would be left with no A&E bed available anywhere in the country. Why is this accepted for those with a mental rather than physical health crisis?”

NSFT claimed:

The trust said it was dealing with the shortage by using a process called “extended overnight leave” a system where patients are discharged for the evening on the understanding their bed would be available if needed.

But a bed is not available when somebody else is sleeping in it, is it?

NSFT is planning a further £36 million of cuts and to pay a new Director of Research £150,000 per year.

Terry Skyrme, of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said the shortage was down to underinvestment.

“The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust is still closing beds, such as at Carlton Court near Lowestoft, despite NSFT always having patients out of area and after being told by the CQC and Monitor that there must be sufficient local beds for local needs.

“We are being told by mental health professionals that the bed crisis is worsening and spreading nationwide. For how long can commissioners and NHS England cover their eyes and pretend there is no crisis in mental health provision?”

How can we have confidence in NHS England, responsible for this mess, when it makes meaningless statements like the one below after it has overseen the closure of more than 2,100 mental health beds:

NHS England said people with mental health needs deserved the same level of care as those with physical health needs.

“Local NHS commissioners, providers and the local authority need to continue to work together to ensure all patients needing help for their mental health get the care and support they need,” a spokesman said.

No surprise that:

The lead commissioners for mental health in Norfolk, South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, were unavailable for comment.

The commissioners promised that out of area placements would end by the end of April 2014. Now out of area placements have ended because all the private hospital beds are full.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) demanded that there should be sufficient beds in Norfolk and Suffolk for local people when NSFT was rated Inadequate.

Endless broken promises.

Is it that the bureaucrats couldn’t run a bath or couldn’t care less?

Where’s the minister responsible, Alistair Burt?

Click on the image below to read the story in full on the BBC News website:

BBC News NHS 'had no mental health beds left'

5 thoughts on “BBC News: NHS ‘had no mental health beds left’

  1. BackstreetBob says:

    Well that shows you that there isn’t going to be any action on this issue. If the medical director of the trust is flagging this up and nothing gets done then this is all the proof you need.


    Mental healthcare will soon effectively cease to exist, inpatient wards will only be for those who are a clear and present danger to others. Suicide will be rebranded as a lifestyle choice. Depression and anxiety will be reclassified by the DWP as ‘lack of job motivation’ and acted upon.

    Anybody who was taken in by the vague promises from George Osborne on NHS funding will soon be reaping the rewards of their misplaced faith.,

    • m says:

      Even IF you are a danger to yourself or others you still can’t get a bed within 100-200 miles of your home, even  if you are in your 80’s with dementia and trying to murder your relatives..There simply are no beds anywhere, and the private sector are increasingly getting more selective in who they take, because demand outstrips supply..They have NO obligation in law to take a person….and many don’t admit over the weekend, when often the bed is needed.

  2. allwillbewell says:

    ironic that this comes from a failing Trust who have £150000 to pay a Researcher WITHOUT a PhD. Maybe we’ll see more private hospitals open locally when Monitor complete their work…….

    Which doesn’t address the key issue that in this country NHS services should be available when needed, whatever the illness. What have the Eton Mess and Westminster Club done to our birthright?

  3. Martin Bishop says:

    Hundred of NHS acute mental health inpatient beds are being used by those no longer in need of such a service, but without safe and supported accommodation to move into.

    Rectify this problem and the inpatient  bed problem will diminish, in fact possibly disappear altogether.



  4. Terry skyrme says:

    Ever since the crisis started the Trust has tried to claim that the problem is one of “bed blocking”. We were told that the new Bed Management and Discharge Team would solve the problem. Three years on and we are still in crisis. The reality is that ALL parts of the mental health service have been cut. Cuts to Local Authority funding means that Social Services are desperate to get people OUT of residential care and funding for Personal Budgets is also being reduced. Alternatives to admission have reduced not increased, and still the future of Ashcroft Residential Care Home is not secured beyond the next 6 months. We will always need acute psychiatric beds in emergencies and it is very short-sighted to kick people out of hospital before they are ready or before there social problems have been resolved.

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