Cost of out of care placements soar to £7m as scores sent out of Norfolk and Suffolk

Stuart Richardson Chief Operating Officer at Norwich and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Photo:N

Stuart Richardson Chief Operating Officer at Norwich and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Photo:NSFT - Credit: Archant

More than £7m has been spent on sending people out of Norfolk and Suffolk for mental health care, new figures have revealed.

The cost of out of area placements for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has risen to £7.25m in 2018/19 from £4.5m compared to the same period in 2017/18.

NSFT has promised since 2014 to stop sending patients out of area for treatment, and its chief officer said the trust is working to make beds available when needed.

New figure show patients have been out of county for a total of 14,600 days between December 1 2018 and November 30 2019.

A placement is considered inappropriate when patients are sent out of area because no bed is available locally.

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NHS Digital has released its latest findings on all out of area placements in adult acute inpatient mental health services in the UK for November 2019 and the year between December 2018 and November 2019.

In the yearly period, only 20 people were able to receive treatment within 25km of Norfolk.

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The majority of cases were sent between 100 and 200km away, with 125 people sent more than 200km.

The figures show the cost of inappropriate placements have cost more than £7m - £3m more than the previous year.

The majority of stays out of area were between 31 and 90 days as of the end of November 2019.

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer, said the trust has seen out-of-trust placements fall from 71 to 10 since spring, adding: "We know how important it is for people to be cared for as close to their homes and loved ones as possible.

"At the same time, we are developing a whole new approach which means we are supporting people's emotional wellbeing and mental health care needs so that they can remain in their own homes.

"We want beds to be available when they are needed."

Mr Richardson said the trust was working on a number of initiatives including 16 new reassessment beds at the reopened Yare Ward.

For November 2019, there were 15 out of area placements.

Mr Richarson said there are plans to develop a 'crisis house' to support a 'rapid return' to everyday living.

NSFT currently remains in special measures but saw improvements in its latest inspection report from the CQC, improving from 'inadequate' to 'requires improvement'.

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