Out of area care days increase by 200 in a month as deadline day nears

Hellesdon Hospital. Photo: NSFT

Out of area placement days increased by 220 days from April to May, as the deadline to end placements looms. - Credit: NSFT

Adult patients needing mental health treatment have spent a further 550 days out of Norfolk and Suffolk, as only a quarter of health trusts are reporting no placements ahead of next month's deadline.

The latest NHS figures are for placements in May showed 20 patients receiving treatment from the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) spent 550 days out of the county - 220 days more than in April.

This was NSFT's second highest placement figure in 2021 after January, where patients spent 570 days out of the county. 

The NHS deadline for no patients being sent out of area is September. In May, 14 out of 57 trusts achieved this. 

NSFT's deputy chief operating officer said it continues to work to provide care for patients closer to home by the deadline.

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A spokesman for the Norfolk and Suffolk Crisis campaign group said there were growing concerns those who should be in hospital would remain in the community. 

The spokesman said: "Our view is they never were going to make it to reach this deadline. Our biggest concern is that vulnerable and very ill patients will be left in the community in the care of hard-pressed carers. They will not be in a place of safety." 

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The trust said there had been increased demand for the crisis team and more patients required longer hospital stays following admissions with complex mental health needs.

Amy Eagle, deputy chief operating officer, said: "Our clinical teams are working hard to meet the national target of zero inappropriate out of area admissions by the end of September 2021, and new investment in community mental health services is helping to bring more effective and responsive mental health services closer to where people live and work, increasing support to prevent crises and supporting people at home.”

An NHS England spokesman said "considerable work" had taken place to look at services and support discharge into the community

A spokesman said: “Although the pandemic has made this more challenging with many beds being closed for infection control reasons, new funding has been made available this year to support service recovery, helping more people to access to care quickly in the community and to help to discharge people from hospital in a safe and timely way."

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