Unacceptable Distances Travelled by Patients with Mental Health Issues for a Bed

Mental Health charity Mind have voiced their, extremely valid, concern as it is revealed patients with mental health issues have had to travel up to 79 miles to a bed for treatment. It is simply ‘not acceptable’ says the charity.

In October 2014 the average distance travelled was calculated at 13 miles. This was calculated looking at the 226 English clinical commissioning groups. But of these there were 6 teams seeing patients travelling as far as 62 miles. NHS statistics show that it was Brighton, Great Yarmouth and Waveney that faced the longest journey.

A person experiencing a mental health crisis is in a very vulnerable position and are in more need than ever of help and support. The help and support can come from family and friends as well as professionals so being taken far from home means putting them further away from that support network.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre reported that overall the majority of people did travel less than 6 miles from home but 1 in 10 (1,665 people) went 31 miles or more and 1 in 20 went over 62 miles.

The report shows that the bigger the geographical area that the commissioning group covers, the more people are having to travel for treatment. In particular this seems to have had a very negative effect on East England (Great Yarmouth and Waveney). A spokesperson for HealthEast has said ‘beds for mental health patients are arranged by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust who will look for the closest available appropriate bed to the patients home’ adding that ‘we will continue to work with the mental health trust to ensure people are treated as close to home as possible.

Overall it would seem that the CCGs don’t want this happening and communications between teams is happening but there is still a shortfall of beds and a long way to go to get this reduced.

At the end of the day the safety of the patients is paramount so keeping patients, with any issue (physical or mental) close to their support network to aid their recovery is the most important thing.