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Consistently, we hear about the long waiting times for psychological treatment and geographical variations, which are having a real impact on people’s lives. There is a lot of emphasis being placed on improving hospitals, access to help, and high-quality treatment, but this is extremely hard to achieve when budgets are under enormous pressure.
In an recent article in The Guardian, according to NHS figures almost 6,000 mental health patients had to be sent far out of their local area for treatment last year with some travelling hundreds of miles. The number of patients with mental health problems travelling long distances for care in England has risen by 40% in two years, which unfortunately causes catastrophic result in some cases.
This was highlighted more recently by the judicial intervention of Sir James Munby, into finding a bed in the correct facility to take appropriate care of an unnamed 17-year-old suicidal girl, who was due to be released from youth custody. This case not only highlighted the state of the mental health provision in the UK, but reinforced the importance of having the necessary facilities and treatment available locally in order to bring out the best outcomes for those suffering with mental health. Munby, president of the high court’s family division, said it demonstrated the “disgraceful and utterly shaming lack of proper provision in the country of the clinical, residential and other support services.” (The Guardian, 3rd August 2017).
The lack of free beds is a top priority for mental health and additional long-term funding is required to improve local services to stop patients being sent long distances to receive the treatment they need. Whether an inpatient or outpatient, a safe and supportive environment where individuals can receive appropriate and expert support that they need is necessary for better outcomes of those suffering with mental health issues.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has recently announced that thousands more mental health workers are to be recruited by the NHS in England. An extra £1bn has already been promised by the government for mental health services in England to fund the scheme, which is part of a pot of £1.3bn committed in 2016 to transform provision. (BBC News, 4th August 2017).
This is an excellent and positive step towards achieving better resources and treatment available to those suffering with mental health issues. However, there is a lot more work to do to transform the mental health services to ensure the best possible care at the right time and more importantly, in the most appropriate location for those who need it.
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