More than 150 mentally ill people ‘inappropriately’ sent miles away from Sheffield for treatment

More than 150 seriously mentally ill people were sent miles away for treatment because there were no beds available for them around Sheffield, figures show.
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Vulnerable people are having their recovery jeopardised by having to travel sometimes hundreds of miles away from their home and loved ones to be treated, according to mental health charity Mind.

In Sheffield in the year to March 2021, some 185 acutely mentally ill patients were sent to facilities away from their hometown on ‘out of area placements’ (OAPs).

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And of all of the 185 OAPs started during that year, 170 were deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the NHS Digital report.

PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. A man showing signs of depression. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. A man showing signs of depression. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
PICTURE POSED BY MODEL. A man showing signs of depression. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Of those 185, 15 of the OAPs are ongoing and five patients sent on OAPs by SHSC Trust have, at the time of writing, been away for more than 365 days, the report shows.

Between March 1 2020 and 2021, 170 patients completed OAPs. The data shows that 10 of these lasted more than 91 nights; 50 lasted between 31 and 90 nights; 65 between 15 and 30 nights; 20 between eight and 14 nights; and 25 lasted a week or less.

And many of them had to travel a long way for their treatment. 50 of the patients had to travel more than 200km to get the the facility they were sent to and 65 travelled between 100km and 199km from Sheffield.

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Meanwhile, 35 travelled between 50km and 99km; 25 had to travel between 25km and 50km for their treatment; and just 10 patients were less than 25km from home.

Mind’s director of external relations, Sophie Corlett said the impact of the coronavirus on mental health meant it was increasingly important to have “the right beds in the right places”.

She said: “The number of these placements is still far too high.

“The effects of people waiting for treatment or being sent far from their loved ones can be devastating particularly for children and young people.

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“We need to see robust planning and greater investment in mental health services, so that people can get the help they need, when they need it, close to their home and existing support networks.

“To do this the UK Government must prioritise urgent investment in community mental health services to stop people going into crisis.”

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of charity Rethink Mental Illness said out of area placements were a "huge financial cost" for the NHS and risked delaying the recovery of those sent away from their loved ones and usual support networks.

This year will see the Government invest £1.7 billion in mental health services, along with £500m to tackle covid-related pressures.

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The NHS said the funding would allow for improvements to community and crisis care services and would support timely hospital discharges, allowing for a reduction in pressure on inpatient services.

An NHS spokeswoman said: “Mental health providers are committed to ending inappropriate out of area placements as soon as possible, and safely for patients.”

Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust has also been approached for comment.