‘Anxious’ mental health patients sent miles for treatment, despite years of pledges

Suffolk’s mental health patients are still being sent miles away from home for treatment despite six years of pledges to end out of area placements (OAPs).

Despite Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) pledge to end out of area placements (OAPs) by 2021, dozens of people were still being placed in hospitals at least 200km (124 miles) away, over a period of three months last year. This happened between 1 September and 30 November, with 2,970, ‘inappropriate’ bed days outside the NSFT’s boundaries – treatment that should have been provided locally. Placements overall cost £1.27 million. This was described as ‘scandalous’ by mental health campaigners at the time, citing years of ‘broken promises’.


One patient with schizoaffective disorder was moved to Benton Hospital in London, and claimed the unfamiliar environment resulted in heightened anxiety and stress and elongated her recovery process


The British Medical Association is calling for an overhaul of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) as 14 vulnerable people are being sent away from the area to receive mental health treatment, despite some claiming this has undermined their recovery. This was in response to a report by Report Mental Illness and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which found that those with the most severe mental health difficulties are ‘invisible’ in the system.


The chief officer of the NSFT said they are working to increase the availability of beds and are planning to introduce 16 new inpatient patients locally in the Yare Ward at Hellesdon Hospital, which was recently reopened. He also pointed out their reduction of ‘out-of-trust-placements from 71 to 14.’ The cost of OAPs to the NSFT was at £7.25m in 2018/19, in contrast to the figure of £4.5m for the same period in 2017/2018.

Read the full story on the East Anglian Daily Times, 02 March 2020