A growing number of children with mental health problems are being treated on adult psychiatric wards as services struggle to cope with a surge in demand following the pandemic, the NHS watchdog has warned.
There were 249 admissions of under-18s to adult psychiatric wards in England in 2021-22, according to data provided by NHS trusts to the Care Quality Commission (CQC), up 30% on the year before.
Of the children admitted to adult wards, 58% of cases were because the child needed to be admitted immediately for their safety.
But in more than a quarter of cases, 27%, the child was admitted to the adult ward because there was no alternative child inpatient or community outreach service available.
The findings come more than 15 years after the government set a target to end inappropriate admissions of children to adult psychiatric wards. The number of admissions gradually reduced but has now risen again, the CQC figures suggest.
Dr Elaine Lockhart, chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the figures were “a concern but not a surprise. We’ve got a lot of children and young people who have become more unwell. Services are really struggling to meet their needs,” she said.
Source: The Guardian, 30 October 2022
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