NHS spend £2.5m a week on out of area mental health patients

The NHS spends £2.5 million per week on treating out of area mental health patients, as some patients travel over 300 km for a bed, new analysis has shown.

The figures show that in the last year, the NHS has spent over £128 million on patients who have to be sent hours away from their home because of a lack of hospital beds locally.

The number of out of area placements due to bed shortages rose by four per cent from last year, up to 8,400 across England.

Of these, 2,060 lasted between one and three months and 310 lasted over 91 nights.

Thousands of patients had to travel hundreds of kilometers away from their home in order to get treatment for conditions such as psychosis, depression of bipolar disorder.

3,350 of these placements took place 100 km or more from the patients home, with 335 of those taking place 300 or more km away, the equivalent of flying from London to Paris.

Student mental health

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to ending these out of area placements and spend £11bn more on mental health over the next five years.

Luciana Berger, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Social Care and Wellbeing, said: “It is totally unacceptable that vulnerable people who are suffering from mental ill health are being sent hundreds of miles across the country, and often at huge expense, instead of being treated near their home and families.

“The Conservatives have repeatedly said they would eliminate out of area placements – and yet there has been an increase this year of the number of patients being treated far away from where they live. This is an abject failure with a real human and financial cost.

“The Liberal Democrats will invest properly in our mental health services to ensure people receive the right treatment near where they live.

“We will urgently end the use of inappropriate out of area placements and build a brighter future, by investing an extra £11 billion to transform our NHS mental health services and ensure patients receive the care they deserve.”

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