Mental health patients forced to travel far from home for treatment

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.

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