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More hospital beds needed for mental health patients


10 February 2015

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The lack of beds available to mental health patients is at breaking point claims the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

On one occasion last year, there were no beds available for adults in England and the charity has called for action on the problem.

The college president, Simon Wessely, said: “There is mounting evidence – such as the doubling of the number of patients having to be sent out-of-area for care between 2011/12-2013/14 – that there are simply not enough mental health beds available in some areas.

 

The lack of beds available to mental health patients is at breaking point claims the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

On one occasion last year, there were no beds available for adults in England and the charity has called for action on the problem.

The college president, Simon Wessely, said: “There is mounting evidence – such as the doubling of the number of patients having to be sent out-of-area for care between 2011/12-2013/14 – that there are simply not enough mental health beds available in some areas.

“This is a system at breaking point, and patients are being put at serious risk as a result. The college’s position is very clear – everyone who requires an acute mental health bed should be able to access one in their local NHS trust area.”

An investigation by Community Care magazineand the BBC last year found that more than 2,100 mental health beds have closed since April 2011, amounting to a 12% decline in the total number available. It also found that seven people had killed themselves since 2012 after being told there were no hospital beds for them.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said it was “profoundly worrying” that there were days when no NHS beds are available. She said:“It is a cruel result of a longstanding agenda to reduce mental health beds and treat all mental health patients –no matter how unwell – by already overstretched mental health teams in the community.”

Care and support minister Norman Lamb said the government had invested £120m to improve care. “We are pleased that NHS England’s guidance to commissioners for 2015/16 is to give real terms funding increases to mental health,” he said.

“I have set about getting data for the first time ever on out of area placements so that we can see clearly which areas are failing. I am clear that sending people a long way from home is intolerable. I have asked Monitor and the Trust Development Authority to identify the problem areas and find solutions to these failures.”

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