HOSPITAL bosses have called for more mental health beds to be provided in East Lancashire – as too many children with psychological problems are being ‘contained’ on general wards.

Many of these youngsters become distressed, which has led to assaults on staff, destruction of ward equipment and ‘significant disruption to the care of ill children’ at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, according to board papers published by NHS commissioners.

As revealed by the Lancashire Telegraph this month, the shortage of beds has also led to children being sent as far away as Kent and Scotland for specialist care. There are just 14 beds for young people with mental health problems in the whole of Lancashire.

The board papers said the issue was also risking the reputation of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT), which is currently in special measures, due to the disruption caused by youngsters on Blackburn’s paediatric ward.

The papers said: “By being ‘contained’ on paediatric wards young people experience clinical risks as they do not receive the specialist care required to aid their recovery.”

Vanessa Hollings, divisional general manager of family care at ELHT, said: “This is not a desirable situation for the young person, their family or the staff involved and we would welcome additional mental health provision in East Lancashire.

“In these circumstances, additional staff who have the required skills and competencies are brought on to the ward to supervise the young person.”

NHS England, which commissions mental health beds for young people, said a national review was being carried out.

It said it has worked to ensure specialist staff are available to support children placed on general wards, and that some admissions may be due to the patient having additional acute medical needs.

A spokesman added: “We also have access to a further 153 beds across the North West for Lancashire patients.”

Last Thursday, the Lancashire Telegraph revealed how a permanent police base is being set up within the emergency ward at the Royal Blackburn tomorrow, in part to help deal with abusive or violent patients with mental health problems.