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‘Outrageous’ long A&E waits for mental health patients increase 150%

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Mental health patients who arrive at emergency departments (ED) in crisis are increasingly facing ‘outrageous’ long waits for an inpatient bed, with some being forced to wait several days.

HSJ research suggests ED waits of more than 12 hours have ballooned in 2022, and are now around two-and-a-half times as high as pre-Covid levels.

Early intervention for patients in mental health crisis is deemed to be crucial in their care and recovery.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine said the findings are a “massive concern”, while the Royal College of Psychiatrists described them as “unacceptable”.

RCEM president Katherine Henderson said the experience of mental health patients in accident and emergency departments “is not what it should be from a caring healthcare system”.

She said: “We have massive concern for this patient group. We feel they are getting a really poor deal at the moment.

“The bottom line is there are not enough mental health beds. There are not enough community mental health services to support patients and perhaps therefore prevent a crisis and the need for beds in the first place.

“Mental health crisis first responder teams work – a mental health practitioner working with the ambulance service can prevent the need for an ED visit.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 19 July 2022

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