Mental health patients spent 466 days out of area, papers show

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer. Picture: NSFT

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer. Picture: NSFT - Credit: Archant

Adult patients needing mental health care in Norfolk and Waveney spent 466 days out of the area in November, as the deadline looms to end out of placement care across the country.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), the county's mental health trust, has seen increasing numbers of patients being sent away for treatment since August and currently has 16 people out of area.

In the latest figures set to be discussed by the trust's board on Thursday, all of the out of area placement (OAPs) bed days were patients in Norfolk and Waveney. Patients in Suffolk required no out of area treatment in the month.

Figures for out of area days for December are yet to be released but the papers say £900,000 was spent in the month on out of trust placements. The recent figures are a decrease from the 548 OAP days recorded in October.

NSFT has previously promised to stop any patients being sent away for treatment. NHS England has asked trusts nationally to meet the target this year.

Speaking before the board meeting on Thursday, Stuart Richardson, chief operating officer, said the number of OAP placements was coming down and plans were in place to ensure it came down further over the next few months.

Mr Richardson said: "We did see a significant increase as we came out of the first phase of lockdown.

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"Alongside other mental health trusts, we saw a significant increase in demand for our beds and the acuity of the people who were needing to come and stay with us who were more poorly than we were used to previously.

"The report details how, in line with other trusts across the region, it has had additional access to beds of a private provider within Norfolk for Norfolk patients only to ensure that people can be seen close to home.

"We have still had some people who have needed to be treated out of trust due to demand but that number is now coming down again. We have a plan in place to ensure that continues to come down over the next few months."

The trust continues with plans to open 20 new beds for elderly patients in mid-February.

Jonathan Warren, chief executive for NSFT, said: "We got it right down pre lockdown one. Post that we did struggle and we had high demand that was shared across the mental health estate."