The Guardian: Hundreds of mental health beds needed to end ‘shameful’ out-of-area care

Cuts in mental health beds have gone too far, leading to the “shameful practice” of patients being sent hundreds of miles from home to be treated, according to psychiatrists.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is calling for the NHS to urgently create hundreds of extra beds for people who are seriously mentally unwell in order to tackle a damaging shortage.

“Cuts in the number of mental health beds have gone too far and patients and their families are suffering as a result,” said Prof Wendy Burn, the college’s president. “It is clear that some parts of England urgently need more properly funded and staffed beds. Hundreds more are needed.

We have, of course, been campaigning against the transportation of people in crisis or the refusal or delay of emergency admissions for more than five years.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) promised that beds would not be closed until it was shown that they were no longer needed. But it slashed community services and shut the beds anyway.

The Norfolk CCGs and NSFT promised the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) of Norfolk County Council in January 2014 that out of area transportation would stop by the end of April 2014.

It was the first of many broken promises.

The beds crisis became far, far worse.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists wants those parts of England which regularly send patients out of area to be made the priority if hundreds of extra places are approved. These areas are Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire; Devon; Hampshire and the Isle of Wight; Lincolnshire; Norfolk and Waveney; and Nottinghamshire.

Despite the fanciful claims of the NSFT Board, NSFT is identified by the Royal College of Psychiatrists as one of the worst performing trusts in the country.

Sadly, we already knew.

People have paid with their lives. But the commissioners and managers responsible for the humanitarian crisis have received promotions and pay rises.

Isn’t it strange the way that the number of people transported out of area rose immediately after Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the trust, having been reduced to ‘less than zero’ for the visit of the inspectors?

It is almost as though managers, now given a veto over admission decisions even after front line clinicians have decided an admission is necessary, even though the manager does not know or has not met the patient, blocked admissions in the run up to the inspection. Surely they wouldn’t do that in a ‘clinically-led’ trust?

NHS England declined to comment.

NHS England is a disgrace.

Click on the image below to read the article in full on The Guardian website:

296 thoughts on “The Guardian: Hundreds of mental health beds needed to end ‘shameful’ out-of-area care”

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