Research by the BBC has found that mental health patients are being forced to travel hundreds of miles to seek treatment due to a lack of beds.
The number of patients travelling to seek emergency treatment has doubled in the last two years, with one patient was admitted to a deaf unit as no beds were available anywhere in the country.
Leading charities have called this situation a disgrace. One mental health trust spent £345,000 last year placing patients in bed and breakfast accommodation to free up needed beds, reports the BBC.
Over the past two years mental health trusts have had cuts of over 1,700 beds meaning patients have been sent out of area to obtain specialist treatments.
Lisa Rodrigues, chief executive of the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said rising demand for mental health services and cuts to community services by councils were creating problems.
She said: “Mental health services are a barometer of how the system is operating and if you remove some of the lower levels of support that people rely on to maintain their lives, it’s not surprising that they’ll present in crisis. We are seeing people coming to hospital who are much, much iller when they arrive so we have higher numbers of detained patients but, much more than that, we’re seeing people have to stay in hospital for longer.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “It is a disgrace that people with mental health problems are being sent miles away from family and friends or being accommodated in inappropriate settings when they are acutely unwell. This is the latest in a long line of clear signals that, at least in some parts of the country, NHS mental health services are in crisis. Continued cuts to funding for mental health services are taking a significant toll on the quality and availability of services.”
Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, added: “It’s absolutely scandalous that people with serious mental health problems are being treated in such a terrible way. Anyone going through a mental health crisis should expect to get help in a therapeutic environment where they can get better. The last thing they need is to be shunted to a hospital hundreds of miles away or, even worse, left to fend for themselves in a bed and breakfast.”
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