NHS England Admits Child Mental Health Bed Shortage

There Is A Shortage Of Beds Available For Young People With Mental Health Problems, The NHS Has Admitted

14.07.2014

NHS England has said it will be taking immediate action to improve the inpatient mental health services it provides for children and young people after a damning new report found current provision is falling short of basic requirements.
 
Its own "frank and honest" document states that the number of tier four beds within child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) increased to 1,264 in January 2014, up from 844 in 1999 and 1,128 in 2006.
 
However, at the same time, severe shortages were identified in the south-west and other regions including Yorkshire and Humber, which has resulted in many patients being admitted to facilities far from their homes. This could cause further stress to their mental wellbeing at a time when they are already suffering.
 
Furthermore, evidence was uncovered of patients being inappropriately admitted to specialised units.
 
This follows and corresponds with the results of a recent survey published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which questioned 576 trainees working in psychiatry. It found that 18 per cent had made a decision on sectioning someone based on the fact that they would not get a bed otherwise, despite the fact that patients should only be sectioned under the Mental Health Act if they are a risk either to themselves or others.
 
Furthermore, almost 30 per cent had sent a patient home with critical mental health issues because there was simply no room for them.
 
In response to the latest news, NHS England has promised to increase the number of CAMHS specialised beds available in the UK and to improve the way people move in and out of specialised care.
 
It will also recruit up to 20 new case managers responsible for ensuring that young people receive levels of care appropriate to their needs.
 
NHS England's director for people with long-term conditions Dr Martin McShane said: "We are committed to both addressing the more immediate problems, by increasing capacity, and to improving these services longer-term, together with our national partners. We want to ensure that we can provide sustainable, high-quality care as near to patients' homes as possible."

We can help you to claim compensation for clinical negligence if a serious injury or fatality has occurred as a result of inadequate supervision and care. See our Mental Health Negligence Compensation page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The findings of this new report are worrying and urgent action is required to ensure that children and young people who are being cared for by mental health services are receiving the best possible care.

“Mental health patients are extremely vulnerable and often require specialist care to help manage their illness, but sectioning should be a last resort to protect both the safety of patients and others. Not simply so they are guaranteed a bed.

“We hope that appropriate action is now taken by the Government to ensure mental health facilities have the appropriate resource to provide suitable care to patients to improve standards and maintain high standards of patient safety.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner