Individuals continue to be uprooted away from their families for MH care

The number of people being sent hundreds of miles away from their families for mental health treatment rather than cared for locally has increased over the last twelve months.

In April 2016, the government said within four years it would eliminate the practice of uprooting individuals due to local bed shortages, which is generally thought to impede or delay recovery.

Some 7,655 new mental health “out of area” placements (OAPs) occurred last year. 96 percent of these occurred not because specialist care was available elsewhere, but because of a lack of local provision.

Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said: “The NHS has promised to completely eradicate inappropriate out of area placements, and yet we can see that the number of these placements between September and December last year increased from the same period the year before. This is disturbing. We are nearing the NHS’s own target of zero out of area placements by 2020/21, but the figures are going in the opposite direction. There is a huge amount of work still to do to get the numbers down.”

“Too many people with mental health problems are being forced to travel hundreds of kilometres from their friends and family to receive the treatment they need. This can worsen people’s chances of recovery, as well as being expensive for the NHS and the taxpayer. In December 2018 alone, 250 people were sent 300km or more away from home to get help. We urgently need to see investment in mental health services reaching the frontline, so that people can get the treatment they need, when they need it, close to home.”

“The NHS has rightly made ambitious commitments for improving mental health care. But while we are waiting for these to be delivered, thousands of people continue to face the traumatic experience of being sent away from home and separated from their support network to get the help they need. This is a crucial year and the urgency of the NHS delivering on its promises cannot be overstated. It must do far better for the people with mental health problems in its care right now.”

Out of area placements cost, rather than save, the NHS money. On average, the health service pays £545 / day for each relocated individual. This amounted to a figure in excess of £100m in 2018.

Source: Mental Health Today

Author: Philip Challinor
Posted on: 20th March 2019