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Wednesday, 08 February 2017

Mental health experts warn of unacceptable number of treatments far from home

Written by The Press Association

The number of mental health patients who are being treated in facilities far away from their homes is unacceptably high, experts have warned.

The comments from the Royal College of Psychiatrists come as new figures revealed that during December last year 250 English patients were forced to travel over 100km to receive treatment.

The data, released by NHS Digital, also shows that 23 patients in England were treated more than 300km away from home.

And 71 patients spent over a month receiving mental health treatment outside of their local area.

The college said that such placements cause significant psychological damage to patients.

Ministers have pledged to eliminate "inappropriate out-of-area placements" for mental health patients by 2020/21.

Commenting on the figures, Professor Sir Simon Wessely (pictured), president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Sadly, today's figures show that too many people still have to travel long distances to access acute mental health services.

"It has been a year since the Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care called for an end to the practice of sending people out of area for acute mental health inpatient care due to local bed pressures, and yet the latest figures show that out-of-area placement figures are unacceptably high.

"If the Government is to meet its own target of ending out-of-area placements by 2020/21, it needs to ensure investment reaches front line mental health services and hold commissioners and providers to account for achieving this target.

"Also key to this will be Government actions to tackle the underlying problems across the health and care system, particularly delayed transfers of care from mental health settings which are partly due to the unavailability of supported accommodation and rehabilitation services and continue to rise."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "It is clearly unacceptable for people to be sent long distances away for care at a time when they need the support of friends and family the most.

"That's why in April we committed to a national ambition to eliminate inappropriate out-of-area placements for adult acute inpatients by 2020/21."

Government urged to act on 'discrimination' against mental health sufferers

A former health minister has called for an end to "outrageous discrimination" towards people with mental health conditions as one of his constituents faces a two-year wait for NHS treatment.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb told MPs one of his constituents would have to wait for two years to receive treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a group of behavioural symptoms including hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness.

The North Norfolk MP, speaking during health questions in the Commons, said: "In 2014, the Secretary of State and I published a vision to achieve comprehensive maximum waiting times standards in mental health so people with mental ill health have exactly the same right to access treatment at the same time.

"Why on earth can't the Government end this outrageous discrimination against people with mental ill health?"

Responding, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted the patient's wait for treatment was too long but said he was "disappointed" by the claims as the Government had invested £1 billion more a year in treating mental health conditions than previous governments.

Mr Hunt added: "This April we will be introducing maximum waiting times for eating disorders, and as he knows, we have committed during this Parliament to publish pathways for all conditions and that will include his constituent and I agree that what he is waiting for at the moment is much too long."

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