Mental Health Patients Being Forced To Travel Long Distances For Care

Care minister Orders Review To Establish Cause Of Problem

05.02.2015

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

New figures from the NHS’s Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have revealed that more than 400 adults with mental health problems are being forced to travel more than 30 miles to seek hospital treatment.

The information, published by The Guardian, have prompted care minister Norman Lamb to order a review by Monitor, NHS England and the Trust Development Authority to identify the cause of the problems.

In some cases mental health patients from Derbyshire are being treated as far away as south Devon with patients from south Devon getting treatment in Birmingham.
It is understood that there is an apparent shortage of readily available beds for patients in crisis and lack of support for those discharged into their local communities.

Lamb told the Guardian: “This is something I have been pursuing for the last six months or so. It has been quite frustrating but we are now making progress. What is fascinating is [the figures] are immensely variable.

“Is it a commissioning problem – they have not commissioned enough beds or enough crisis support at home – or is it an organisational problem with trusts? By understanding the issue, we can then start to tackle it. Until now we just haven’t had the data to be able to do that.”

The HSCIC says there may be many reasons why a person might be in a bed far from home – for example, they might have chosen to go there, or been on holiday or visiting relatives when needing urgent care.

Sometimes mental health professionals can fail in the duty of care. If you or a loved one has suffered due to professional or medical negligence we can help you to claim compensation. Visit our Mental Health Negligence Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
"Poor mental health care puts extremely vulnerable people at serious risk of harm. From working with people suffering from mental health issues, and the loved ones of people affected we know that increased waiting and travel times for psychological treatment is costing lives and destroying families.

"If people are having to travel long distances to get access to mental health treatment it means that patients are further away from their family and friends who may be unable to visit and offer essential support through very difficult times.

"Getting the most appropriate care as quickly as possible can be the difference between life and death – it’s that serious.

"The stigma of mental health is being eroded but not quickly enough and we have seen examples of the problems not being taken seriously enough by GPs and psychiatrists and poor responses from Crisis Teams and Mental Health Community Treatment Teams. Many suicides could have been avoided if expert mental health care was more readily available to the most vulnerable patients. Quite often family members of patients who have taken their own lives as a result of mental health problems are left devastated and go on to suffer with long-lasting psychiatric problems themselves.

"It is vital that more is done to improve care and resources for mental health patients, both in terms of access to services, and in ensuring that those with mental health problems are given the same priority as those with physical symptoms."
Ayse Ince, Associate