Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Mental Health Patients Travel Up to 200 Miles Due to Shortage of Beds

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Mental Health Patients Travel Up to 200 Miles Due to Shortage of Beds

Article excerpt

VULNERABLE mental health patients are being forced to travel hundreds of miles from home for treatment at a £9m cost to the region's taxpayers.

A lack of hospital beds means NHS bosses are having to pay for in-patients from Greater Manchester to be treated across the country. The M.E.N. has learnt there were nearly 700 cases where patients with 'acute' needs were sent up to 200 miles away for treatment - at a cost of around £555 a day per person.

In a 12-month period, Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Trust spent more than £8.6m on such placements - which experts warn can be detrimental to vulnerable people.

Health chiefs trying to tackle the problem have bid for cash to create supported accommodation and plan to introduce 'enhanced community mental health teams' and home-based treatment.

Plans are also afoot to work with housing providers to create more supported accommodation for patients after they leave hospital.

Despite all this, Alan Hartman, of Manchester Users Network, which supports patients, says the situation is not improving. Patients can be treated away from home for days at a time, with family and friends unable to visit because of the distance.

"They've got no beds so you have to go miles away. It's a real worry," Mr Hartman said. "Patients can be very, very lonely when they're miles away from home - and the impact is it takes them longer to get better.

"When you're moved about you get different psychiatrists, different opinions and different medications. I think people end up staying in hospital longer, which is also wasting money. People are getting ill because they are being wrongly discharged. It becomes a revolving door, patients are in and out."

Earlier this year, the M.E.N. revealed that 425 of Greater Manchester's mental health patients with acute needs were subject to 'out-of-area' placements at a cost of £5.9m, between October 2016 and June this year. In July, there were 33 out-of-area placements. And between August and October 2017 there were another 225 people subject to out-of-area placements at a further cost of £2.7m.

Of those, ten were more than 300 kilometres away from their local mental health service - further than the distance between Manchester and London. …

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