Adult mental health patients in England have spent more than 200,000 days being treated in “inappropriate” out-of-area placements – at a cost to the NHS of £102m – in the year since the government pledged to end the practice.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which carried out the analysis, says such placements, in which mental health patients can be sent hundreds of miles from home, are a shameful and dangerous practice that must stop.
The government said it would end such placements by April last year but, in the 12 months since, 205,990 days were spent inappropriately out of area, at a cost equivalent to the annual salaries of more than 900 consultant psychiatrists, the college found.
Dr Adrian James, the college’s president, said: “The failure to eliminate inappropriate out-of-area placements is a scandal. It is inhumane and is costing the NHS millions of pounds each year that could be spent helping patients get better.
“No one with a mental illness should have to travel hundreds of miles away from home to get the treatment they desperately need.”
He said investment was needed in local, properly staffed beds, alternatives to admission, and follow-up care in the community as well as government backing “to address the workforce crisis that continues to plague mental health services”.
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Source: The Guardian, 13 June 2022