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Mental health redesign increasing pressure on patient beds


12 November 2015

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Large-scale changes to mental health care are having a “negative impact on patient care” and increasing pressure on inpatient beds, a briefing released today by The King’s Fund said.

Large-scale changes to mental health care are having a “negative impact on patient care” and increasing pressure on inpatient beds, a briefing released today by The King’s Fund said.

Driven by the need to reduce costs, trusts have embarked on large-scale transformation programmes aimed at shifting demand away from acute services towards recovery-based care and self-management, moving to models of care “for which the evidence is often limited,” according to the briefing, Mental Health Under Pressure.

A cited example of this was the merger of specialist crisis resolution home treatment teams (CRHTs) and early access to psychosis services into generic community health teams.

“Evidence suggests that these teams are often unable to provide the level of support required by patients, reducing quality of care and increasing pressure on inpatient beds,” the briefing read.

The think-tank completed an analysis of existing evidence and found that only 14% of patients say that they received appropriate care in a crisis, there was an increase of 23% in out-of-area placements for inpatients in the year up to 2014/15, and bed occupancy rates routinely exceeding recommended levels.

In response, Helen Gilburt, author of the report and fellow in mental health policy at The King’s Fund said that while few would dispute the rationale for moving care into the community, “the problems arise with the scale and pace of the changes, which lack the necessary checks to evaluate their effectiveness and the impact on patient care.”

View the report here

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