Children with serious mental health problems are becoming trapped in NHS psychiatric units, unable to leave because care is unavailable outside hospitals, a thinktank has said.
NHS figures show that between October 2015 and September 2016 children and young people in England spent almost 9,000 days in hospital after being declared fit to be discharged. Some end up stuck in units for several months.
NHS England did not tell the Education Policy Institute how many patients were involved in the 9,000 days, despite being asked this in a freedom of information request. But the thinktank said data showed the problem was growing.
The total number of what the EPI termed “wasted days” was 42% higher between December 2016 and February 2017 than in the same period in 2015-16. In January alone this year, under-18s spent 804 delayed days in mental health inpatient units, compared to 553 the previous January.
Delayed discharges of such patients can occur because their home area cannot provide the specialist support they need to ensure they remain safe.
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of the charity Young Minds, said: “Far too many young people are being left in limbo in mental health hospitals because the right support isn’t available in their community. In some cases they may have to wait weeks or even months before they are discharged.”
Article from The Guardian, 26 July 2017