A major health commission has concluded that the practice of transporting mentally ill adults across long distances should be terminated immediately.
The Independent Commission, chaired by ex-NHS chief executive Lord Crisp, concluded that some cases were potentially dangerous.
It is not unknown for patients to travel as far as 50km in order to access care, and this occurs on a regular basis for routine appointments.
The reasoning behind this issue is a lack of acute beds in patient services are available in some geographic regions.
Based on recent reports, it is obvious that bed blocking is contributing to this phenomenon.
The report, which is backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), recommends changes to how services are commissioned.
With this in mind, the Independent Commission dictates that no acutely ill patient should have to travel significant distances to receive care, and that this should be implemented by October 2017.
At the same time, a maximum four-hour wait for acute psychiatric care – in hospital or the community after an initial assessment – should be introduced.
The aim being to guarantee that patients with mental health problems are treated equally to those with physical problems.
Commenting on the issue, President of the RCP, Prof Sir Simon Wessely, reflected that the current situation is simply unacceptable, and suggested that there was an overwhelming consensus on the issue.
“Everyone agrees that it is a scandal that patients with serious mental disorders who need admission can end up being sent anywhere from Cornwall to Cumbria in a search for a bed. And yet it continues. The answers lie not in just providing more beds, although there are definitely places where that might help in the short term, but assessing the entire system.”
The report was led by former chief executive of NHS England Lord Nigel Crisp.
It concluded that access to acute care for severely ill adults mental health patience was inadequate all over England, and that the lack of service in some parts of the country was nothing short of dangerous.
Finding beds for patience in need is becoming increasingly challenging, and this is clearly the major area of concern for the health service.
Minister for Mental Health, Alistair Burt, was of the opinion that the reports could play a significant role in shaping the evolution of mental health facilities in the NHS going forward.
“NHS England will soon be publishing its independent Mental Health Taskforce report, backed by the £1bn investment announced by the prime minister earlier this year,” Burt reaffirmed.
It is expected that by the end of the decade, over 2 million people in England will utilise mental-health services in the NHS on an annual basis.