NHS trust told no mental health beds available
- 07 Sep
An NHS trust was told that there were no mental health beds available across England.
Dr Bohdan Solomka has said that on Sunday a lack of beds were applied across the NHS and among private providers, reports the BBC.
The director of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trusts revelation has prompted Norwich MP Clive Lewis to call for delays in planned bed closures.
NHS England said it was up to local NHS commissioners to ensure patients got the care they needed.
Dr Solomka confirmed that up to Sunday night "there were no adult acute inpatient beds in England available to us either from NHS or private providers".
Mr Lewis has said "It's a national disgrace that there are no mental health beds for those who need them. It is simply unimaginable that in the event of a heart attack someone would be left with no A&E bed available anywhere in the country. Why is this accepted for those with a mental rather than physical health crisis?"
The trust said it was dealing with the shortage by using a process called "extended overnight leave" a system where patients are discharged for the evening on the understanding their bed would be available if needed.
Dr Solomka said calling for more beds to be made available was just one response.
"On the other hand we need a more multi-tool response, it's about freeing up community beds and housing so we're looking at the whole system. We want what's best for our patients so it's concerning in that sense. We have confidence in our staff that are making the decisions. It's about getting all stakeholders together and making sure [a lack of beds] happens as infrequently as possible."
Terry Skyrme, of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said the shortage was down to underinvestment. The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust is still closing beds, such as at Carlton Court near Lowestoft, despite NSFT always having patients out of area and after being told by the CQC and Monitor that there must be sufficient local beds for local needs. We are being told by mental health professionals that the bed crisis is worsening and spreading nationwide. For how long can commissioners and NHS England cover their eyes and pretend there is no crisis in mental health provision?"
A spokesman for the NHS has said: "Local NHS commissioners, providers and the local authority need to continue to work together to ensure all patients needing help for their mental health get the care and support they need.”
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