Private beds bought to cope with lack of mental health beds in Devon

Attempts to cope with a lack of mental health hospital beds in Devon, which include purchasing private beds, has been highlighted during the inquest of a Tiverton woman who at one stage had been waiting for a bed to become available.

A lack of beds for mental health patients, as well as insufficient training of health professionals, came to light this week during the inquest of Wendy Telfer who had a history of severe depression. The 44-year-old took an overdose after going missing from the RD&E on March 15, 2016.

 NHS Devon Partnership Trust have confirmed there are currently 14 people in psychiatric beds outside the county.

Dr David Somerfield, chief operating officer at DPT, said: “This is an exceptionally busy time for our inpatient units across Devon, just as it is for the rest of the NHS. Our teams are doing a fantastic job but the pressure on beds is significant.

 “We do everything we can to support people here in Devon if we possibly can and, in the last few years, we have reduced the number of people having to travel outside the county for care by two thirds.

“However, we still rely quite heavily on beds outside Devon, particularly when demand is as high as it is at the moment.

“We are looking at a number of plans to reduce the pressure on our psychiatric beds at the moment, and this includes the introduction of 12 new step-down beds in Exeter to support people who sill require inpatient care but are on the way back to recovery and discharge from hospital.

“We already use this model in south Devon, where it has been very successful. We have also submitted planning permission for a 10-bed Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Exeter and are hopeful that this will be up and running by the middle of next year.”
Full Story in Express & Echo, 13 January 2017