Statement from Dr Louise Irvine, London GP and MEP candidate for National Health Action Party in London
(reaction to today’s story – Mental health patients forced to travel miles for care:http://www.bbc.co.uk/
“Under this government, mental health is in a mess.
“It’s clearly distressing for patients to be made to travel hundreds of miles for treatment, as revealed by this report. At a time when they most need support from family and friends, being far from home can be a further source of distress. This is especially hard for young patients with mental health issues who have to travel far from home in order to receive treatment. A previous study has shown that of the 18 trusts that provided data, 10 had sent children more than 150 miles away to receive treatment.
“But this report is the tip of the mental health iceberg.
“Budget cuts are stopping people with mental health problems accessing care both in hospital and in the community. Being denied early intervention increases the chance of suicide or being sectioned. This is tragic for patients and costly for the NHS as patients with psychosis and schizophrenia are more likely to end up in hospital rather than being treated in the community.
”The number of under 18’s spending time on adult mental health wards has also increased dramatically in the past year and this is totally unacceptable. Adult mental health wards are not a suitable environment for children, and admission of children to these units should only occur in exceptional circumstances. More young people were admitted to adult wards in the first eight months of 2012–13 (250 patients) compared with the whole of 2011–12 (219 patients).
“We must change the spending focus for the sake of patients as well as for economic reasons. Investing in care for patients with mental illness could save up to £50 million a year, as caring for a patient with mental illness in the community costs up to £13 a day, compared with £350 a day if the patient is admitted to hospital. On top of that, failing to deal with mental health problems means patients are at increased risk of becoming unwell and being unable to work.
“Preventative community services, such as family therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and peer support, are also far more effective in preventing mental illness and are less distressing for the patient than being admitted into hospital.
“But in the past year, half of early intervention schemes have had their budgets cut. Additionally, over half (54%) of the early intervention schemes have reported a decreased in the quality of their service since the budget cuts.
“Social care for patients with mental health issues has also been reduced from a high in 2008–9 of 160,000 people to 101,000 people in 2012–13, a decrease of 37%. Nearly a third of local authorities have halved the number of patients who receive their mental health services, including information or advice services and day care.”