Experts concerned mental health patients sent home unsupported
A watchdog has said that due to the pressure to free up mental health beds, many patients are leaving at risk.
Healthwatch England has put in a Freedom of Information request and found psychiatric patients currently spend fewer than six days in hospital than in 2012-13, reports the BBC.
From the data of 32 mental health trusts, the average number of “bed days” per patients per year has fallen by 10%. Healthwatch England believe that many patients are being discharged too early and not being given enough support.
Anna Bradley, chairwoman of Healthwatch England, said the findings reflect a troubling picture where patients discharged from hospital often struggle to access crisis treatment at home. “What is particularly problematic is when people leave institutions, they cannot access the support they need in the community. We have heard of cases where people have taken their own lives. Our concern is that people are being lost between hospitals and community services.”
Chris Naylor, of health think tank the King’s Fund, said there is evidence that mental health is underfunded compared with physical healthcare, despite recent government promises to ensure parity of esteem. “Mental health accounts for about 23% of the burden of disease in England, but it only receives around 11% of the funding. If the government is serious about putting mental health care on an equal footing with physical health, then it’s going to need a really serious commitment in the next parliament.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Commissioners are expected to give a real-terms funding increase to mental health this year. NHS funding for mental health increased by £300m last year.”
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