Based on information requested from the NHS mental health trusts, it has been revealed that an increasing number of young people are being sent far from home for treatment.
Figures received from 51 of the total of 58 trusts have shown that approximately 350 patients under the age of 18 have been admitted to adult wards in 2013-2014. This figure has increased dramatically when compared to the same period two years earlier when the figure was 242. The figures for the under-16 age group who have been admitted to adult wards are 12 for 2013-2014, compared to 3 during 2011-2012.
Ten trusts have confirmed that they have sent children more than 150 miles away from home, for care. According to Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, there was the need to transfer a child to Bury in Greater Manchester, which is 275 miles away, as there were no available beds close to home.
The clinical director of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Michael McClure has stated that doctors are faced with this dilemma on a daily basis. It has reached the point where they are required to make between 50 to 100 telephone calls to different parts of the country, in their search for an available bed.
He further stated that this was unacceptable as the young people should not be pushed into facilities that are inappropriate for their needs, regardless of the help made available to them. The long distance transfers may become traumatic for these young people, particularly if they are experiencing their first breakdown. Being moved far from the people they love is sufficiently traumatic, but the lack of visits from their family due to the distances, could further traumatise them.
The NHS England is currently conducting a ‘rapid review’ of the situation as they believe that the mental health of young people and children are a priority.