Pressure on A&E due to system failure of mental health services

  • Concern has been raised around the lack of community provision for people with mental illnesses through leaked minutes from a crisis care concordat steering group. /images/blog/busy_hospital.jpg

    Leaked minutes from a government-attended steering group has revealed that a large number of people with mental health issues are ending up in A&E wards due to a "system failure", reports the Guardian.

    In the meeting attendees heard that people with mental illnesses were presenting themselves at A&E wards due to the inadequate provision for them in the community.

    The minutes suggest that the failure to treat mental health patients properly is contributing to pressure at A&E wards in NHS hospitals in England, which have missed the target of 95% of people to be seen within four hours for 93 weeks in a row. 

    They state: "The RCEM [Royal College of Emergency Medicine] raised a concern that high numbers of people ending up in A&E indicates a system failure. People return to A&E because community plans are not working for them."

    Responding to the leaked document minutes, Rethink Mental Illness chief executive, Mark Winstanley, said community mental health services were "badly funded and overstretched".

    He added: "This has to change because it's costing lives. Everyone should be able to get access to a hospital bed close to home whenever they need it, no matter where they live or what their circumstances. We also need the next government to urgently invest in community mental health care, like crisis and early intervention services; otherwise the system will continue to fail people with mental illness."

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