A MENTAL health patient was left waiting in the Royal Blackburn Hospital’s emergency department for almost five days for a bed.

The patient’s plight was revealed in an East Lancashire Hospitals Trust document seen by the Lancashire Telegraph.

In total, the patient waited 4.75 days in A&E from ‘Decision to Admit’, the time at which a full mental health assessment has been carried out and it has been determined that the patient requires an admission.

It is one of 45 breaches of the 12-hour target waiting time at the A&E for mental health patients between January 1 and March 14 this year.

Health campaigner Russ McLean said the figures showed that mental health services were at breaking point and branded the situation a national scandal.

Hospital trust bosses said in the document, which provided a quarterly update on mental health 12-hour breaches, that a lack of available mental health beds was the main cause for the waits.

Mr McLean, who is chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “Both trusts have a duty of care to the patient that they’re not able to provide.

“While I have every sympathy for them with the lack of resources they have, by the time these people are at A&E, they’re at crisis point, and a wait of one hour is not good enough, never mind nearly five days.

“This is a national scandal and shows that mental health services are at breaking point.

“More funding is desperately needed.”

There has also been a year-on-year increase in the number of mental health 12-hour breaches, with the level of breaches much higher than in previous years, according to the document.

There are two inpatient facilities for mental health patients at Royal Blackburn Hospital (Hillview and Pendle View), which are both run by the county’s main mental health organisation Lancashire Care Foundation Trust.

A spokesman for Lancashire Care said the patient who waited almost five days for a bed would have been in the A&E department and would have been supported by its mental health practitioners.

They said an increase in demand at the front door in A&E was among the reasons for the rise in breaches, along with an increase in section 136 presentations.

Section 136 gives the police the power to remove a person from a public place, when they appear to be suffering from a mental disorder, to a place of safety. The person will be deemed by the police to be in immediate need of care and control as their behaviour is of concern.

The spokesman added: “The current challenges are due to a lack of provision in the community, therefore our focus is on working with commissioners to secure additional investment in the community to support people and prevent crisis thereby reducing presentations at A&E and the need for admission.

"Until these additional services are fully operational we have commissioned an additional 22 beds from The Priory to manage the demand and we also use other capacity from within the private sector when appropriate, however these are not always available."

The trust also said it had a mental health improvement plan being delivered.

Its aims include making improvements to mental health decision units and expanding the operating hours of home treatment teams to run 24/7 across the county.