TWO teenagers with serious mental health problems had to travel more than 270 miles because there were no hospital beds available for them. They were among 16 young patients forced to go out of the county for treatment between September 2015 and February this year. A Freedom of Information request gas revealed the longest distance travelled was a trip of 277 miles to Bury, Greater Manchester.
Other locations included Wheaton Aston in Staffordshire, Attleborough in East Anglia, Colchester in Essex, Roehampton, Godden Green in Kent, Roehampton and Enfield in London and Woking in Surrey. Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 1 said most of the teenagers had to be moved further afield because they needed particular mental health treatment the trust was not commissioned to provide. The trust also sent 13 adults outside the county over the same period with patients sent to locations in London, Kent, Southampton, and Woking.
The revelation has sparked calls from the mental health charity YoungMinds for better Government investment in beds and services. The charity said more must be done to ensure specialist mental health services are more widely available for children and teenagers closer to home. Director of campaigns Lucie Russell said: When a child reaches crisis point and their suffering is so acute they need inpatient care, they should not have to wait for a bed, nor travel hundreds of miles to get one.
Children in crisis and their families need comprehensive and immediate support during this extremely traumatic time. The charity said inpatient care should be a last resort but the lack of early intervention services that focus on prevention is causing a surge in demand for inpatient beds. Ms Russell said: This is both expensive and increases the suffering of children and their families.
Sussex Partnership service director for children and young people, Ruth Hillman, said: Sometimes the children and young people referred to our services for care need specialist inpatient treatment that we are not commissioned to provide so they have to receive this out of the area. Examples of this include psychiatric intensive care, severe learning disability conditions and those young people who require placements in forensic adolescent units. This is what happened in all but three of these 16 cases.
These 13 children and young people needed care outside of our area because all their conditions required specialist care. Our priority and focus is always on providing the right care in the right place for the children and young people we treat. Most of the time that is at home but sometimes a period in hospital is needed.
In the rare cases where we do not have bed space in any of our hospitals and have to look out of the area we always work very closely with the young person and their family and would look to move them back to the local area as soon as capacity is available and their condition allows.
References ^ Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (www.theargus.co.uk)