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Mental health crisis referrals leap by almost 75%

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Referrals to mental health crisis services in England have increased by almost 75% ‘post-pandemic’, senior NHS leaders have revealed.

Documents submitted to NHS England and Improvement’s November board meeting capture the scale of demand facing the sector, which national director Claire Murdoch described to fellow leaders as “huge”.

Bed occupancy rates in adult acute services have remained above the recommended ‘safe’ level of 85% since June 2020, performance reports suggest.

Above that threshold, experts warn that patient safety, out of area placements, and surge demand risks are likely to increase.

Ms Murdoch wrote in her report to the board that between 180,000 and 200,000 calls per month were being fielded by covid-19 response crisis lines in the first quarter of 2021-22 — more than 6,000 each day.

She added that there had been a 74% increase in referrals to crisis services ‘post-pandemic’: ”We’re now seeing huge demand and we’re back to pre-covid levels.” She said some people had not sought help during pandemic peak periods and this was leading to more severe demand."

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Source: HSJ, 25 November 2021

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