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Concerns over lack of mental health cae beds
7:00pm Thursday 17th October 2013 in News
ONE of the country’s leading psychiatrists said mental health services were unsafe and ‘in crisis’.
Dr Martin Baggaley spoke out after a Freedom of Information request by Community Care magazine revealed more than 1,700 mental health beds have closed in recent years.
This is despite increased demand for inpatient services.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust could not provide its bed closure statistics yesterday, but said it recognised the recent surge in patients and it was looking for ways to cope.
The national figures show a minimum of 1,711 mental health beds have been closed since April 2011, including 277 between April and August 2013.
Meanwhile, about half of the 46 trusts analysed had average bed occupancy levels of 100 per cent, well above the 85 per cent recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Dr Baggaley, medical director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, said his organisation regularly had to send patients to beds outside London, due to the shortages, with some being sent as far as Somerset.
He said: "We are in a real crisis at the moment. I think currently the system is inefficient, unsafe.”
Care minister Norman Lamb said: "Current levels of access to mental health treatment are unacceptable. There is an institutional bias in the NHS against mental health and I am determined to end this.”
Tim Riding, network director for adult mental health services at Lancashire Care, said: “The trust has experienced an increased demand for inpatient beds over recent months.
“This has been recognised by both the trust and the Lancashire clinical commissioning groups and as a result, a joint review of the planning assumptions underpinning our Inpatient Transformation Programme has been initiated.”
Lancashire Care said it did not receive the Freedom of Information request and would need more time to find the data.
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