Mental health patients forced to travel hundreds of miles – BBC News

Image caption Bodmin Hospital is one of two with inpatient mental health facilities in Cornwall from where around 10 patients per month travelled 300km for a bed

People with mental health problems are being sent far from home for treatment, with some having to travel hundreds of kilometres.

NHS figures show 25 patients a month are treated in hospitals more than 186 miles (300km) away while 255 a month travelled more than 62 miles (100km).

Health bosses said patients were only sent far from home if the facilities do not exist in their locale.

Mental health charity Mind said the practice was “unacceptable”.

Of the 25 patients being moved more than 300km for a bed each month, Cornwall accounts for about ten of these.

Patients from Norfolk, Suffolk, Devon, Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Manchester are among those sent at least 124 miles (200km) for beds.

The figures relate to adults only and have been compiled by NHS Digital from December 2016 to February 2017.

Vicki Nash, from mental health charity Mind, said the situation was “unacceptable”.

She said: “When you’re experiencing a mental health crisis your support network of family and friends are instrumental to recovery. Being far from home can make your mental health even worse and can increase the risk of suicide.”

Dr Ranga Rao, the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ national lead for acute in-patient care, said: “Inevitably, recovery takes longer during out-of-area care because people are away from their home, and don’t have access to their friends and family. It can’t in any way be beneficial to your recovery.”

The Government has pledged to eliminate inappropriate out of area placements by 2020-21.

‘It’s incredibly disruptive’

Image copyright Pol Hodge
Image caption Chloe Hodge, 19, is being treated in a mental health unit away from her father, Pol, who lives in Cornwall

Pol Hodge is from Cornwall and his daughter Chloe is being treated at an adult facility in Pontypridd, Wales, 200 miles away.

He said: “We calculated we have travelled around the world one a half times visiting Chloe in the last three and a half years.

“It’s horrible because it holds up her recovery. Regular visits from friends and family are an important part of the process, but it isn’t possible when she is so far away. It’s incredibly disruptive but there isn’t a place for her in Cornwall.”

NHS Kernow, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Cornwall’s figures for out of area placements are generally low, but for some people who need highly specialist care, they may need to be placed in the most suitable setting for their care, which unfortunately may be somewhere out of county.

“This may be because we do not have the facilities in county to support them, either due to the demand for their particular need, or because their needs may be specialist, and only available from particular providers.”

The figures for individual trusts and CCGs are rounded to the nearest five.

Last year Cornwall’s coroner raised concerns with the health secretary over the care of mentally ill patients far from home.

It came after an inquest jury concluded the death of a man from St Austell was suicide, while undergoing care 140 miles from where he lived.

Image caption Patients travelling between 100km and 200km for beds (by Trust)

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