Recent studies from NHS England have shown that 17,509 bed days were lost in October 2016 in the 24 trusts which specialise in mental health and learning disability care, an increase of nearly 56% on the previous November.
A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said:-
“No-one should face unnecessary delays in being discharged. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health will transform services by 2020/21 to make sure urgent improvements are made.”
The reasons for these issues derive from the lack of social care packages available to support people once they leave hospital due to cuts to local authority budgets and rising demand. Yet, experts have said that there has been a disproportionate impact on mental health due to poor community psychiatric provision and reduction to other support services such as detox.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said:-
“When you are hospitalised in a mental health crisis, you are at your most unwell and desperately need the right care at the right time.
“The time after leaving hospital is critical as that is when people are at the greatest risk of taking their own lives. People need the right support to recover and manage their mental health properly and trusts should be planning properly for discharge from the point at which someone goes into hospital.
“These types of problems are symptomatic of mental health historically not being given the attention and funding it deserves – mental health services have been underfunded for decades, at a time of rising demand.”