New figures released today, by BBC and Community Care, reveal nearly 5,500 people with mental health problems in England had to travel out of their area last year because of a lack of hospital beds.
In response to the figures Paul Farmer CBE, Chief executive of Mind, says:
“The mental health beds crisis has been an ongoing issue for a long time and it is truly a sorry state of affairs that the numbers have risen, despite repeated commitments from government and the NHS to improve the care of people in crisis. It is completely unacceptable that so many people are being sent miles away from their loved ones in search of a hospital bed, at a time when they are often scared, vulnerable and most in need of the support of family and friends and familiar surroundings.
“That some trusts have made significant progress in reducing the number of out of area placements shows what can be done when commissioners and clinicians decide that this practice is intolerable, take action and make the necessary resources available to tackle it. As with so many aspects of mental health services, it costs more to do things badly, and the human cost is far greater. People with mental health problems deserve better. A mental health crisis is an emergency just like a physical health emergency and no one should be expected to put up with a second rate service for either.
“The mental health taskforce has set out plans to eliminate out of area placements by 2020/21 and many including Mind are calling for this to happen as a matter of urgency. The number of suicides among people sent out of area has risen recently, so the catastrophic consequences of not addressing this issue can’t be underestimated.”