CONCERNS have been raised about the ‘unacceptable’ state of mental health services.

East Lancashire’s patients’ champion Russ McLean said that an ‘increasing’ number of mental health patients are attending A&E at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital because of a shortage of beds in the community.

He also claimed that some patients have waited as long as 12 to 14 hours in A&E at Blackburn.

Mr McLean, who has been contacted by relatives of patients worried about mental health services, described the situation as a ‘national scandal’.

He said: “An increasing number of patients are presenting at A&E in Blackburn and nationally as a direct result of not enough money being spent on mental health patients.

“One patient’s relative told me how they could be violent with her and his siblings.

“The crisis team at Lancashire Care was contacted and he was sectioned but there were no beds available in the whole country for him to attend.

"It is unacceptable and a national scandal."

A spokesman for Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, the main mental health organisation in the county, said there had been an increase in demand for its mental health beds in March and early April.

“This is a spike that has been seen nationally,” said the spokesman.

“At present we are making improvements to our inpatient services at Pendle View (Royal Blackburn site) and from the autumn there will be 85 beds provided from there.”

The spokesman added: "In March 2018 our teams in A&E did 242 assessments, 91.3 per cent of people were seen in less than four hours, therefore it is not common place for people to be waiting 12-24 hours to be seen in A&E.

"Of the 242 people assessed, only 30 people required an admission."

A spokesman for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Patient safety is our first priority, and our A&E is not always the best environment for people in mental health crisis to wait for long periods.

“We are working very closely with our partners across the system, especially Lancashire Care Foundation Trust to ensure that all our patients get the most appropriate care at the earliest possible opportunity.”