Austerity and NHS cuts: wrecking our mental health

Dr Mona Kamal writes on Keep Our NHS Public: “Despite all the rhetoric by this government on prioritising resources for mental health and commitment to parity of esteem, the reality is that time and again they have been very willing to use mental health as an easy target for funding cuts with very little regard to the human cost this has on arguably one of the most vulnerable patient groups.

“We’ve come to expect the periodic announcements of ‘record funding’ from this government, but mental health trusts in England have in fact suffered budget cuts in real terms of just over 8% year on year since 2011. They have lost almost a third of all NHS mental health beds over the past decade and 6800 (15%) mental health nurse posts have gone.

“This means a frequent struggle for staff to find beds to admit patients into and has extremely serious consequences for those in crisis and whose illness carries a risk to themselves or others. It means patients, including young children having to be moved hundreds of miles away from their homes and families to get to the nearest empty bed and it forces unacceptable practices where acutely unwell patients who are detained on section are having to wait for days or even weeks in busy A&E departments while a mental health bed becomes available.

“Nowhere is this crisis more evident than in Child and Adolescent Mental Health where there have been years of negligent underfunding – most notably during the early years of the coalition government. By 2017 one third of children’s mental health services faced either downsizing or closure. This is causing completely needless suffering for young people who are not able to access care when they need it. Figures from the NSPCC indicate that an average of 150 children a day are denied access to mental health treatment.”

[Read full column on Keep Our NHS Public website…]

This Movember, remember that the Tories have destroyed men’s mental health and left volunteers to pick up the pieces

Ewan Somerville writes on HuffPost UK: Austerity costs lives. Turn to men’s mental health and you’ll see how.

The shattering regret, heartbreak and tears on thousands of faces. Those are the faces of mothers, fathers, siblings, sons and daughters, who can no longer see those eyes. Those are the eyes of thousands of men below 50, eyes once burning with ambition and pride, only to fade away, falling through the cracks of a broken system – that’s a system made of waiting lists, denials, cries of wolf to deaf ears, and a failure to provide support, a voice, at the critical hours. It was then, every two hours in Britain last year, that a man took his life.

It’s a national tragedy – between 2011 and 2016, a heartbreaking £105 million has been slashed in real terms from England’s mental health budget.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK website…]

Mental health patients sent 300 miles from home due to lack of beds

From The Guardian: Patients with serious mental health problems are being sent more than 300 miles away from their home areas because of widespread bed shortages across the NHS, figures show.

Adults in mental health crises were sent as far as 307 miles from home last year, where they were denied easy access to family and friends for many months – a situation NHS chiefs have admitted reduces chances of recovery.

Dorset Healthcare University mental health trust sent patients to a Priory mental health hospital in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, 246 miles from the south coast, because of a lack of beds. The year before it had sent patients even further afield to a Priory unit in Durham, 325 miles away.

Last year, Lancashire Care NHS foundation trust had to place patients 299 miles away in a mental health unit in the village of Ticehurst in East Sussex, while people from Norfolk ended up being cared for at Arbury Court in Warrington, 239 miles away. Oxleas mental health trust, based in Dartford, Kent, sent patients for care – including in a psychiatric intensive care unit for those whose lives were at risk – up to 232 miles away in Bradford, West Yorkshire.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Hundreds of mental health patients died after NHS care failures

From The Guardian: At least 271 highly vulnerable mental health patients have died over the last six years after failings in NHS care, a Guardian investigation has found.

Coroners have been so alarmed at the lapses in care that emerged during inquests that they issued legal warnings to 136 NHS bodies, mainly providers of care, between 2012 and 2017. They included mental health trusts, acute hospitals, ambulance services and GP surgeries.

Mental health campaigners said the findings were shocking and claimed that many of the deaths were avoidable and constituted a “tragedy”.

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Over 100,000 children rejected for mental health treatment

From NSPCC: More than 100,000 children referred to local specialist NHS mental health services have been rejected for treatment in the last 2 years.

New figures obtained from NHS Trusts in England confirm that from a total of 652,023 cases referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), 109,613 children were turned away – equivalent to an average of 150 a day.

Record numbers of children contacted Childline about suicidal feelings in 2016/17, it was revealed by Childline’s Not Alone Anymore annual review. Mental and emotional health is now the most common reason for a child to contact Childline.

[Read full article on NSPCC website…]

Children waiting up to 18 months for mental health treatment

From The Guardian: Children with mental health problems are waiting up to 18 months to be treated, according to a government-ordered report, in an indictment of the poor care many receive.

A Care Quality Commission report into child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) will warn that long delays for treatment are damaging the health of young people with anxiety, depression and other conditions.

Long delays are leading to some children starting to self-harm or fall out of education, couples breaking up and parents having to stop working so they can look after their child, the charity Young Minds said. Statistics show that one in five children referred for treatment in England cannot be seen by overstretched child and adolescent mental health services, and some families end up seeking private care.

“We regularly hear from parents who can’t get a referral, with their GP telling them to seek a referral via their school and vice versa. We also hear from parents who have been waiting for months for an initial assessment, and whose children’s conditions have got worse during that time,” said Jo Hardy, the head of parent services at Young Minds.

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