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Delays to hospital discharge effect mental health patients most

Delays to hospital discharge effect mental health patients most

Delayed discharges are rising more rapidly in mental health trusts than other hospitals in England, according to new figures
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Delayed discharges are rising more rapidly in mental health trusts than other hospitals in England, according to new figures.

Data from NHS England found that the number of bed days lost increased by 56% in mental health trusts in October 2016, when compared to November 2015.

However, in acute trusts the figure increased by just 30%.

Cuts to local authority budgets have caused cutbacks to social care packages needed to support people with mental illness once they are discharged.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told the BBC, which obtained the figures, that the Government would be investing £400m over four years to provide care for people at home.

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, released in February 2016, iterated a need for £1bn to be invested into mental health services by 2020/21.

The document also promised “rapid improvements” in supporting people with mental health problems by that time.   

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said: "When you are hospitalised in a mental health crisis, you are at your most unwell and desperately need the right care at the right time.

"The time after leaving hospital is critical as that is when people are at the greatest risk of taking their own lives. People need the right support to recover and manage their mental health properly and trusts should be planning properly for discharge from the point at which someone goes into hospital.

"These types of problems are symptomatic of mental health historically not being given the attention and funding it deserves - mental health services have been underfunded for decades, at a time of rising demand."

The National Audit Office estimated last year that delayed discharges cost the NHS approximately £820m each year.

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