23% rise in the number of people being sent miles away from home for mental health support

  • New research has found that patients are facing 370 mile journeys for beds due to local services being unable to meet the demands.

    Mental health services have been found to be spending millions of pounds sending patients far away for mental health beds in the last year, reports Community Care. busy_hospital.jpg

    Figures found under the Freedom of Information Act from 56 mental health trusts revealed that 4,447 patients were sent to hospitals outside of their local trust’s catchment area in 2014/15, which is a 23% rise on the previous year.

    The total bill for the out of area beds, which trusts often purchase from private providers, rose from £51.4m to £65.2m, among 29 providers that held cost data.

    In a statement, NHS England acknowledged that the distress out of area placements could cause patients was “unacceptable” but said the introduction of the first waiting time standards for mental health services from next April “will mean fewer patients need to travel far afield for care” in the future.

    Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s director for people with long term conditions, said: “We are determined to improve mental health services and address the distress and unwarranted costs associated with out of area placements which are unacceptable. This is why we have set up a mental health taskforce to establish a clear plan for the next five years. We have already announced the first waiting times and access standards in mental health for both psychological therapies and early intervention for psychosis; these measures will mean fewer patients need to travel far afield for care.”

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