Fears over cuts to South Yorkshire mental health beds

The Michael Carlisle Centre, Osborne Rd, Nether Edge
The Michael Carlisle Centre, Osborne Rd, Nether Edge
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South Yorkshire’s NHS trusts have shut scores of beds for mental health patients, raising fears of a shortage of care, a report has revealed.

The statistics show that 45 beds – including 12 in Sheffield – have been axed since 2011 at the county’s mental health facilities.

The report, based on Freedom of Information requests made by Community Care, expressed concerns that patients are being turned away because of high occupancy rates.

Over the past two years, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust has removed 12 beds for older adults, while Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust has shut 27.

Meanwhile, the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – which caters for patients in Barnsley – has closed six beds, all for elderly people.

But Richard Bulmer, Sheffield Health and Social Care’s service director, said its 12 beds have only been ‘mothballed’ because of a dip in demand, and could be reinstated if necessary.

“We are working very hard to provide more services in the community to help ensure people do not unnecessarily end up in hospital,” he said.

“The collective impact of these changes means we are sending very few patients out of the city. In addition, the bed occupancy for adult mental health inpatient wards in Sheffield is at its lowest for a number of years.

“The trust has two wards for older adults and occupancy for these beds has been at 75 per cent or less.”

Marjorie Wallace, head of the charity SANE, said: “It is all too easy to find the cuts demanded by efficiency savings in mental health. If a patient has heart failure or is in a coma, a bed has to be found.”