‘Unprecedented numbers’ sent hundreds of miles for a bed

The HSJ reports that parts of the country are seeing ‘unprecedented’ numbers of ‘inappropriate’ out of area placements for mental health patients, despite a flagship national ambition to eliminate these cases.

Several senior sources in the sector confirmed concerns about the situation to HSJ. They said it was caused by a combination of: workforce shortages, rising severity of illness and length of stay in the wake of covid, omicron outbreaks closing beds, the closure of outdated “dormitory wards”, and a lack of appropriate private capacity.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, mental health trusts had been aiming to eliminate inappropriate OAPs by April 2021. Published figures show the number of patients in inappropriate OAPs averaged between 600 and 700 in 2019, and after a drop caused by the pandemic in 2020, returned to similar levels through most of 2021.

Full story in the HSJ, 17 February 2022