MP shocked at teenager's nine-month wait for a mental health bed


Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman says he will raise the case of Sophia Courtouke-Wright with the health secretary. Pictured are Sophia's parents Steve and Fani. - Credit: Archant

An MP has taken up the case of a teenager stuck in a hospital for nine-months while she waits for a mental health bed.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman wrote to NHS chiefs that he was shocked no bed had been found for Sophia Courtouke-Wright from Hingham despite her desperate need.

As reported on Saturday, the 14-year old, from Hingham, has been in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) since February with a severe eating disorder.

She is being fed through a nasogastric tube and she was meant to be transferred to a specialist unit for children with eating disorders earlier this year, but no space has been found for her.

Mr Freeman also said he would be raising the case with health secretary Sajid Javid.

George Freeman MP

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

In response to our article on Saturday, an NHS spokesman said hospital admissions for young people with eating disorders had risen by a third in the east of England in the last year and they were supporting her family. 

But Mr Freeman wrote: “While I understand that, sadly, referrals for specialist eating disorder placements have significantly increased since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic - I am shocked that Sophia should be kept waiting for such a long period of time."

He added: “I would urge all parties to urgently come together again with Sophia’s parents to try and find a positive way forward.

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“It is imperative that this is kept a top priority and that we get this resolved for Sophia, and her family as soon as is possible.”

The letter was sent to the chief executive of the NNUH, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and the Clinical Commissioning Group, as well as the head of NHS England which commissions the beds.

Steve Wright and Fani Courtouke-Wright from Hingham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Steve Wright and Fani Courtouke-Wright from Hingham have been trying to find a mental health bed for their teenage daughter for nine months - Credit: Archant

Sophia's mother Fani, who shared a copy of the letter, said: “We are really grateful for all the positive feedback we have had since the article and the support we received from many people. 

“I'm  hopeful that the case will be moved forward by NHS England.” 

Sophia had taken two paracetamol overdoses and seen several specialists before being admitted to the NNUH for her own safety in February.

However, her parents expected her to be moved to a specialist unit soon after and fear she will become institutionalised after nine months in hospital. 

Her dad Steve said: “We have had nine months of beating our heads against a brick wall and being constantly worried about our daughter."

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