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70% of children with severe mental illness are hospitalised far from home


11 May 2017

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Seven in 10 children with severe mental illness are being admitted to hospitals outside of their local area, an investigation by the British Medical Association has found.

The news, which comes on Mental Health Awareness Week, highlights the worsening access to specialist beds.

 The South West has had the highest increase in patients treated out of area at 106%, while the number of admissions almost doubled in Yorkshire and Humber with a 92% increase.

Seven in 10 children with severe mental illness are being admitted to hospitals outside of their local area, an investigation by the British Medical Association has found.

The news, which comes on Mental Health Awareness Week, highlights the worsening access to specialist beds.

 The South West has had the highest increase in patients treated out of area at 106%, while the number of admissions almost doubled in Yorkshire and Humber with a 92% increase.

Healthcare Leader has previously reported that five CCGs, including NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG in Yorkshire, have cut funding for mental health services despite overall funding uplifts from NHS England.

In total, 69% of children and adolescents were classed as ‘out of area’ in 2016/17 – a 12% increase on the year before.

In NHS England’s Next Steps on the Five Year Forward View, the organisation promised to fund 150-180 new specialist beds ‘in underserved parts of the country to reduce travel distances’ for children and young people with the most severe mental illnesses.

Dr Gary Wannan, BMA community care committee chair, said NHS England needs to have a ‘very clear plan’ to roll out the new beds.

He said: ‘It can be an incredible wrench for children to leave their homes and being based far away is not going to help a young person in crisis.

‘In some areas we have seen the rate of investment improve so patients don't have to be treated so far from home; in other areas, patients haven't been so fortunate.

‘NHS England must ensure that, especially in these areas, the money gets through to local community teams so they can make a real difference to the lives of children, young people and their families.’

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