The closure of mental health units and beds in England has attracted criticism from a leading charity
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE and journalist, has labelled the situation as a ‘scandal’ as statistics show the number of psychiatric beds in the country has almost halved over the last 18 years.
According to NHS England figures, there were around 34,214 beds in 2000, it has now fallen to 18,353 in the second quarter of 2017/2018. Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust revealed in March that 36 mental health beds will be closed, eight of which permanently.
An intensive care mental health ward at the Ipswich Hospital has also temporarily closed due to short staffing.
Bosses at the trust insist the measures being taken “are in the best interest of patients” and that it will invest “significantly” in improving the environment and safety for patients.
The outlook nationally prompted Marjorie to call on the government to halt the closures, amid fears patients are being moved far away from their homes in order to find an available mental health bed.
She said: “The closure of psychiatric beds and units has created a national scandal.
“There are times when there are few, if any, psychiatric beds available anywhere in England.
“Even when a bed can be found, it may mean shunting a patient hundreds of miles across the country against government policy that people should be treated close to home.”
SANE has also highlighted a study from independent health charity The King's Fund which has highlighted mental health and learning disabilities as having the largest reduction in NHS beds of any sector since the 1980s.
Mental health and learning disabilities have seen the largest percentage reductions in NHS beds of any sector since the 1980s, according to the King’s Fund who say this is the “result of long-term policies to move these patients out of hospital and provide care in the community”.
Click here for more information on SANE.