54 Mental Patients in Hospital for Years; AUDIT CALL: What Is Happening Here? Asks Concerned Author of Health Report

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), February 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

54 Mental Patients in Hospital for Years; AUDIT CALL: What Is Happening Here? Asks Concerned Author of Health Report


Byline: By Catherine Vonledebur, HEALTH REPORTER

MORE than 50 mental health patients have spent an extraordinary length of time in Coventry hospitals, it has been revealed.

In the most extreme cases, some have stayed in hospital for 1,400 days, or nearly four years.

Health watchdogs are now asking why the 54 patients with severe mental health problems have stayed for such a long time.

The figures came to light when John Forde, a consultant in public health, presented a report assessing mental health needs to Coventry Teaching Primary Care Trust's Professional Executive Committee.

Coventry PCT's information department had recently looked at the length of stay for patients with the three most common types of illness: Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

Between 2005 and 2006 the average length of stay was 80 days.

For very long stay patients - predominantly schizophrenics - the maximum normal length was calculated at 260 days.

But there are 54 patients whose stay in hospital far exceeds this length of time.

Mr Forde said : "There are 54 patients in hospital for stays of 600 days up to 1,400 days. Is that appropriate? What is happening here?"

He suggested an audit of these cases to validate the figures and to understand the patient's journey.

Committee chairman Dr Peter O'Brien said: "It is an awful long time to stay in hospital. We need to ask Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust to validate this."

Alison Walshe, the PCT's new director of performance and contracting, said she had come across similar long stays within other mental health trusts in the UK where there was a reluctance to release patients back into the community.

Mr Forde said there was little published information within the PCT based on the views of people using mental health services. …

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