Mental health bed shortage in NHS

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Posted on 16/10/2013

1,700 beds closed since April 2011

Over 1,500 mental health beds have been closed since April 2011, according to an investigation by Community Care, and in many trusts demand for beds is outstripping the number of beds available.

The social care magazine, which obtained the data from mental health trusts under the Freedom of Information Act, also found evidence of people being discharged too early, admitted to hospital without a bed available or transported out of their local area for treatment.

Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:

"This investigation paints a disturbing picture of the appalling state of crisis care services in some parts of the country. 

Mind has long campaigned for improvements to services for people in crisis but these figures truly show the extent to which people with mental health problems are being failed when they are at their most unwell. 

The consequences of not getting the help you need in crisis can be catastrophic, as serious as an untreated physical health emergency, and yet we see people turned away or not given the help they need far too often."

Excellent crisis care does exist in parts of England but we need to see it everywhere. 

The government has said it is committed to giving mental health equal priority with physical health, but until we see services properly funded, adequately staffed and able to cope with the numbers of people in need of help, mental health services will never improve. 

This is a true test of the new NHS commissioning structures. We need to see national and local commissioners working together to ensure that everyone in crisis gets the help they need.

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