Mental health beds under pressure

  • A survey of junior doctors has found that pressure on mental health beds is so high that many patients are being sectioned to ensure they receive necessary care.

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists questioned 576 trainees working in psychiatry across the UK. The college has said its findings suggest mental health services were approaching a "tipping poin/images/mentalhealth.jpgt" and that the situation was "simply unacceptable", reports the BBC.

    The survey also found that critically unwell patients were being sent home due to a lack of beds. Ministers have said inpatient beds should be available for those who need them.

    The BBC says key findings from the survey include:

    •         Some 18% said their decision to detain a patient under the Mental Health Act (section someone) had been influenced by the fact that doing so might make the provision of a bed more likely; 37% said a colleague's decision had been similarly influenced

    •         One-in-four said a bed manager had told them that unless their patient had been sectioned they would not get a bed

    •         Almost 30% have sent a critically-ill patient home because no bed could be found

    •         A third had seen a patient admitted to a ward without a bed

    •         And 22% had been forced to send a child more than 200 miles from their families for treatment

    Dr Howard Ryland, who oversees its psychiatric training described them as "very alarming".

    "People are beginning to recognise that there is a real crisis in mental health. This survey shows a picture of the very severe pressure that frontline staff are under in terms of securing the care that people need. The NHS doesn't have the resources to cope with the ever increasing demand. The system doesn't have the services to provide everyone with the care they need."

    Prof Bailey, president of the college, who said: "This survey provides further evidence that mental health services are approaching a tipping point. Continued cuts to services can only result in further distress and discomfort for patients, many of whom are young, vulnerable, some of whom are forced to receive care far from home. This situation is simply not acceptable."

    In a statement, care minister Norman Lamb said: "It is not acceptable to detain someone under the Mental Health Act purely because they need an inpatient bed. Decisions about detention must always be taken in the best interests of patients at risk of harming themselves or others. Inpatient beds must always be available for those who need them. We are scrutinising local NHS plans to make sure they put mental health on a par with physical health."

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