A MENTALLY ill patient was left waiting in the Royal Blackburn Hospital's emergency department for three days for a bed.

The patient's long wait was revealed at a recent East Lancashire Hospitals Trust board meeting.

It is one of 32 breaches of the 12-hour waiting target at the A&E for mental health patients since March this year.

Details emerged after trust chief Sharon Gilligan answered a question from non-executive director Naseem Malik at the meeting asking what the longest wait had been for a mental health patient.

Ms Gilligan, director of operations for emergency services at the trust, said: "The longest wait in the last few months has been three days.

"We were seeing waits of four and five days this time last year, so we're not where we want to be but significant improvements have been made.

"There have been 13 12-hour breaches in July this year compared to 33 last year, so there has been a significant improvement."

Earlier this year, the Lancashire Telegraph reported how a patient waited for almost five days at the hospital's A&E for a bed.

Ms Gilligan added: “The safety of all patients is our first priority and when a patient with mental health needs attends A&E, we have plans in place to care for them until they can be assessed by a specialist mental health professional from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust (LCFT).

“If a patient requires admission to a Mental Health bed and no bed is immediately available, a full risk assessment is completed, a care plan developed which may include additional staff to support the patient and regular reviews are undertaken by the Mental Health Liaison Team from LCFT.”

But health campaigner Russ McLean, who is chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said the figures were still not good enough and that more beds are needed in the community.

He said: "There may have been improvements but a wait of three days is still unacceptable and more money and resources are needed for more beds in the community."

Russell Patton, director of operations at Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, the county's main mental health organisation, said: “When patients attend A&E and are subsequently referred to our Mental Health Liaison Service, we aim to meet their needs in an efficient and effective manner, and wherever possible within 12 hours.

“We have reduced the number of mental health 12 hour breaches in East Lancashire from 22 in March 2019 to 10 in July 2019, which gives us confidence that the recent changes in our working practices and additional improvements in staffing are having a positive impact.

“We are working with Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (NTW), who have a CQC rating of ‘outstanding’, to learn from their approach to managing mental health urgent care pathways.

“We recognise that more changes are required as well as investment in additional provision. We are continuing discussions with commissioners regarding further funding to bring us in line with the national mental health investment standard," he added.