Record high for out-of-area beds

New analysis has shown that record numbers of patients with serious mental health issues are enduring ‘damage and distress’ as a result of being sent to out-of-area beds.

The British Medical Association analysis reveals that 700 patients were found out-of-area beds in January this year, which is 23 per cent more than the same month last year, and the highest since records began in 2016. This is despite Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledging to ending such placements by 2020.

Separate data shows that 36 per cent of patients in out-of-area beds were in them for prolonged periods of three months or more. Of 610 patients in such beds at the end of November 2017, 220 were still in them in February, the last month for which figures were published.

According to the BMA, this highlights a deeply troubling picture of ‘sustained reliance’ on out-of-area placements as beds in the NHS were cut.

Andrew Molodynski, BMA consultants committee mental health policy lead, said: “The fact that many placements continue for months on end is shocking and hugely damaging and distressing for individuals and their families. There does not appear to be a realistic plan from government as to how this stain will be removed – no increase in beds, no meaningful increase in community crisis services.”

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