More beds needed for young people suffering from mental health problems

  • NHS England is planning an extra 50 places after a review reveals ‘long distance' admissions, plus staff and community care shortfalls.

    The NHS is said to be increasing the number of beds available for children and young people needing specialist mental health services to prevent patients being treated long distances from home, reports the Guardian. 

    A report by the NHS has found that broader engagement with children and young people, their families and their carers is one of the problems that should be addressed. It also found that some parts of the UK could be losing beds as services shift to areas where the problems are worse. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    The report says: "There are geographical inequities in provision of services with some areas very poorly served ... There needs to be a balance struck between need for a concentration of clinical expertise and a specific therapeutic environment, and the detrimental effect of long distance admissions."

    The number of beds for children needing specialist care rose from 844 in 1999 to 1,264 in January this year.

    Norman Lamb, minister for care and support, said: "I want to build a fairer society where children get the mental health care they need, but the current system is too fragmented and pressurised. To address this we are taking immediate action by making more beds available and appointing a taskforce to improve commissioning and create more joined-up services for children and young people. I am absolutely determined to get this right so that children everywhere get high-quality care."

    Sarah Brennan, chief executive of the charity YoungMinds, said the report "lifted the lid" on big failings. "This has to be a pivotal moment where we seize the initiative and bring about a sea change in how we support children and young people's mental health."

    Martin McShane, NHS England's director for patients with long-term conditions, said: "We are committed to both addressing the more immediate problems, by increasing capacity, and to improving these services longer term, together with our national partners."

    However, an article by the BBC claims ‘NHS England says it does not know how many hospital beds are needed to deal with increasing demand for children's mental health services.'

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