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Failure to follow up after mental healthcare increases suicide risk

Failure to follow up after mental healthcare increases suicide risk

At least 11,000 people each year are not getting the right care after being discharged from mental health hospitals in England, a mental health charity has said
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At least 11,000 people each year are not getting the right care after being discharged from mental health hospitals in England, a mental health charity has said.

A freedom of information request by the charity Mind has found that one in ten people discharged from mental health hospitals are not getting follow-up care within a week of leaving – amounting to at least 11,000 people every year.

NICE guidelines state that all patients should be followed up within seven days because people are at high risk of suicide during that time.

Mind sent an FOI to all 56 mental health trusts in England and received a response from 54. The request was also sent to seven health boards in Wales but received only one response.

A survey of over 850 people with mental health issues, also conducted by the charity, found that those who weren’t followed up appropriately were twice as likely to attempt suicide and a third more likely to harm themselves compared to those who said they were followed up within seven days of being discharged.

Saffron Cordery, the director of policy and strategy and NHS Providers, said the figures are another indication that mental health services are ‘overstretched and under-resourced’.

She said: ‘We also know that pressures on local authorities and social care are impacting on discharge planning in mental health as they are in acute care.  

‘It is worrying that insufficient capacity to ensure appropriate follow up is adding to these pressures, by increasing the risk of people returning to A&E with mental health problems and being re-admitted.’

Data from the NHS should that on average more than one in twenty people with mental health problems who are discharged from hospital are readmitted within 30 days.

Professor Louis Appleby, director of the national confidential inquiry into suicide and homicide, said: ‘People leaving hospital can feel unsupported as they return to the problems that may have led to their admission.

‘Those first few days are the time of highest suicide risk - follow up within 7 days has helped but we now need to go further. This is probably the most important single step a service can take to improve patient safety.’

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