Fears for men­tal health pa­tients sent 100 miles for treat­ment Doc­tors call for end to ‘fail­ing’ sys­tem

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

DOC­TORS have de­manded an end to the trans­fer of Birm­ing­ham men­tal health pa­tients more than a hun­dred miles away for treat­ment.

Th (BMA) re­vealed the ‘fail­ing’ state of men­tal health care in the city in a re­port pub­lished this week.

It of­ten means pa­tients are cut off from friends and fam­ily who could play a vi­tal role in their re­cov­ery.

Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull Men­tal Health NHS Foun­da­tion Trust, which pro­vides men­tal health care in the city, said pa­tients were sent else­where when there were no beds avail­able lo­cally – but it was suc­ceed­ing in re­duc­ing the num­ber of pa­tients af­fected.

The Bri­tish Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (BMA), which rep­re­sents doc­tors, made Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quests to health bod­ies in Eng­land to dis­cover the num­ber of pa­tients sent out of area for care for the three years from 2014/15.

It found Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull Men­tal Health NHS foun­da­tion Trust sent a pa­tient to the Pri­ory Hospi­tal in Dar­ling­ton on Teesside, 170 miles from the city.

A pa­tient was sent to Cygnet Hospi­tal, in Taun­ton, Devon, 138 miles away while oth­ers were sent to Cross Lane Hospi­tal in Scar­bor­ough; Cygnet Hospi­tal, Har­ro­gate; Mi­randa House, Hull, and Pri­ory Hospi­tal Chea­dle Royal, Cheshire.

More cases saw pa­tients end up in Brighton, Portsmouth and the Royal Glam­or­gan Hospi­tal, South Wales.

NHS con­sul­tant psy­chi­a­trist An­drew Molo­dyn­ski, the BMA’s men­tal health pol­icy lead, said: “The prac­tice of send­ing pa­tients with se­vere men­tal health prob­lems to beds hun­dreds of miles away from their home and fam­i­lies has be­come en­demic in the NHS.

“Pa­tients are be­ing rou­tinely failed by a sys­tem at break­ing point, with tragic con­se­quences.

“Be­ing sent long dis­tances for treat­ment has an im­pact pa­tients’ care and re­cov­ery.”

Min­is­ters have pledged to elim­i­nate “in­ap­pro­pri­ate outof-area place­ments” for men­tal health pa­tients by 2020/21, but the BMA in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that the num­ber of out-of-area place­ments in­creased na­tion­ally from 4,213 adults in 2014/15 to 5,876 in 2016/17 – a rise of 39 per cent.

BMA coun­cil chair­man Mark Porter said: “Thou­sands are shut­tled around the coun­try be­cause of a chronic lack of on beds. Iso­lated from their friends and fam­ily at their most vul­ner­a­ble time.

“Some have to lan­guish in po­lice cells for their own safety, while their clin­i­cal staff scour the coun­try for place­ments and trans­port.

“Their care suf­fers when com­mu­ni­ca­tion breaks down be­tween hos­pi­tals, and when they are so far from home.”

A spokesman for Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull Men­tal Health NHS Foun­da­tion Trust said pa­tients were sent out of area to re­ceive the most ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment to meet in­di­vid­ual needs when the de­mand for in­pa­tient beds ex­ceeds lo­cal ca­pac­ity.

He added: “For pa­tients ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in their men­tal health that re­quires in­pa­tient care, hav­ing fam­ily and friends close by to help sup­port their re­cov­ery is vi­tal.

“We recog­nise the im­por­tance of this sup­port net­work and have been work­ing on range of ser­vice im­prove­ments and new ini­tia­tives that will re­duce the need for out-of-area treat­ment.

“These ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of en­hanced pa­tient path­ways and the im­proved flow of pa­tients through our in­pa­tient care, have al­ready led to a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in our out-of-area in­pa­tient bed use from 230 in 2015/2016 to 106 in 2016/2017, and we are com­mit­ment to re­duc­ing this fur­ther.

“In ad­di­tion, we are cur­rently work­ing with lo­cal part­ners to in­crease lo­cal ca­pac­ity of men­tal health in­pa­tient beds, which will con­trib­ute to­wards a fur­ther re­duc­tion in out-of-area place­ments.”

An NHS Eng­land spokesman said it was in­vest­ing an ex­tra £400 mil­lion in ‘cri­sis res­o­lu­tion’ home treat­ment teams as part of plans for the big­gest ex­pan­sion of men­tal health ser­vices in Europe.

He added: “We’re also giv­ing lo­cal men­tal health trusts new pow­ers to tai­lor men­tal health ser­vices to bet­ter meet their area’s in­di­vid­ual needs, im­prov­ing lo­cal ser­vices and end­ing the prac­tice of send­ing peo­ple long dis­tances to re­ceive treat­ment.”

Com­ment­ing on the find­ings, Sa­man­tha Nick­lin, head of cam­paigns and public af­fairs at the char­ity Re­think Men­tal Ill­ness, said: “These fig­ures bring into sharp fo­cus the con­tin­u­ing in­jus­tices peo­ple liv­ing with a men­tal ill­ness are fac­ing.

“De­spite men­tal health at­tract­ing more at­ten­tion as a po­lit­i­cal and so­cial is­sue, it is clear that prom­ises of in­creased fund­ing are not cre­at­ing change where it’s needed.”

Some have to lan­guish in po­lice cells for their own safety, while staff scour the coun­try for place­ments and trans­port

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.