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Mental health beds cut by 44% since 2000, finds BMA

Mental health beds cut by 44% since 2000, finds BMA

The number of mental health beds has nearly halved in 16 years, according to British Medical Association (BMA) research
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The number of mental health beds has nearly halved in 16 years, according to British Medical Association (BMA) research.

A report from the BMA found that there has been a 44% decrease in the number of mental health beds since 2000/01, with 726 mental health patients being given out of area placements each month between March and October last year.

The research also found that the number of overnight hospital beds has been cut by a fifth between 2006/07 and 2015/16.

The BMA said that these cuts have ‘unfairly let down’ patients as ‘demand on NHS services has increased’ in that time.

The analysis comes at a time when almost three quarters of trusts has an occupancy rate of 95% on at lease one day in January.

The association added that the lack of beds is causing ‘bottlenecks in emergency departments’, which lead to 15% of patients spending more than four hours waiting for a hospital bed in November last year.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said the delays faced by those with mental health issues have ‘become the norm and this is unacceptable’.

He said: ‘High bed occupancy is a symptom of wider pressure and demand on an overstretched and underfunded system.

‘It causes delays in admissions, operations being cancelled and patients being unfairly and sometimes repeatedly let down.’

Dr Porter added that pressures on the social care system are also responsible for the lack of beds as they are unable to move out of hospital.

He called for politicians to ‘take their heads out of the sand and provide a sustainable solution to the funding and capacity challenges’ facing the NHS.

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