Case sparks calls for more local services for mental health patients

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle
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Mental health care in Lancashire has been slammed as “simply inadequate”.

The criticism has come from Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle who has called on local health bosses to tackle the situation.

The Labour MP said: “Earlier this summer I began to hear concerns from constituents and their families about the lack of mental health resources. I was very alarmed and met with the chief exec Lancashire Care NHS Trust, we had a very frank exchange.

“I pointed out that vulnerable people in Chorley cannot get the services they deserve in our area. People are being transferred to Yorkshire and as far as London and it just isn’t acceptable.

“These transfers and the associated costs are a false economy, and cost the NHS even more than local services in the long run.

“Beds at Chorley Hospital have been closed under the guise of newer facilities becoming available at the Harbour in Blackpool, but I know from my own case work that there isn’t capacity there.

“It’s unfair on patients and hugely difficult for families to give support from such a distance.

“I am calling on Lancashire Care Trust to work with Chorley Hospital to ensure that mental health wards are reopened at Chorley immediately.

“Longer term, the government must invest much more money to ensure people can get local treatment and early intervention.

“Mental health care is most effective when it is given locally and as early as possible.”

Mental health charity MIND says the latest investigation by Community Care and the BBC has revealed that more people were sent to mental health wards outside of their local area in 2014-15 that in the previous year. The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 37 of 56 NHS mental health trusts.

They revealed that:

• The number of mental health patients sent out-of-area by the trusts rose from 3,611 in 2013-14 to 4,447 in 2014-15.

• The cost of out-of-area placements rose from £51.4m to £65.1m (data from 30 trusts).

When asked to specify why trusts were sending people out of area, 30 trusts provided data that showed that nine out of ten (88 per cent) of placements were due to local bed shortages.

Some trusts confirmed that people had been sent more than 200 miles from home to receive care.

Keith Dibble, Interim Deputy Network Director for the Adult Mental Health Network at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Trust has experienced a high level of demand over a period of some months, and the normal down turn over the summer has not happened this year.

“In addition, due to the complexity of patients in our beds, discharge rates have reduced, and therefore we have had to commission private beds when we reach capacity in our own facilities and in some cases these beds are outside of Lancashire.

“This is clearly regrettable, but does reflect a national shortage of mental health beds. We are looking at a number of initiatives to help reduce the pressure on beds, such as the opening of a clinical decision unit, a step down supported facility in Blackpool and the development of community based Acute Therapy Service.

“We are working with our commissioners to undertake an exercise to identify those people who would not need to be in an in-patient unit if other services were available and we will be working together once we have the results of that exercise to consider other alternatives to admission.

“With regards specifically children and young people inpatient services, we follow the national bed model which means that young people can be sent to a hospital which has available specialist beds suited to the individual’s needs for care; this can be either within Lancashire or wider depending on the care requirements.”