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Beds for children hit ‘crisis point’ amid covid demand surge

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Availability of inpatient child and adolescent mental health services beds — particularly for eating disorders — has reached ‘crisis point’, with young people left waiting on a standard paediatric ward or at home as demand surged during the covid pandemic.

A report to Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in January read: “Availability of tier four beds [inpatient mental health beds for children and adolescents, commissioned centrally by NHS England] in the South East and across the country is at crisis point and providers have to compete for the small pool of beds."

“Waits for beds or being placed far from home is a distressing and unacceptable experience for children and young people and families and places an additional burden on other parts of the system such as paediatric wards.”

The report noted a “demand upsurge to the highest levels in the last three years” since the pandemic. It stated, in mid-January, the CCG had two patients awaiting eating disorder beds being managed on paediatric wards as they had become “physically too unwell to be managed at home”. Four others also waiting for a CAMHS bed were being managed at home. 

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Source: 16 February 2021

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