The Royal College of Psychiatrists surveyed 576 trainees in the psychiatry industry across the UK. The findings suggest that mental health services are reaching a tipping point and according to the college, the situation is ‘simply unacceptable’.
In recent months there have been investigations by the BBC News and online journal Community Care which have highlighted the concerning statistic that over 1700 mental health beds have been cut and that many patients are being forced to travel huge distances just to access care.
According to the survey, a worrying amount of patients are being sectioned just to get access to a bed. Sectioning someone under the Mental Health Act is something that should only be done when someone is at risk of harming themselves or others.
The key findings from the survey include:
- Around 18% of mental health professionals said their decision to section a patient had been influenced by the fact that doing so may improve their chances of getting a bed.
- One-in-four professionals said a bed manager had told them that unless their patient had been sectioned, they would not get a bed.
- Nearly 30% were forced to send a critically ill patient home as no bed was available.
- A further 22% had to send a child over 200 miles away from their family in order to receive treatment.
Dr Howard Ryland oversees the colleges psychiatric training and has described the findings as ‘very alarming’,
“People are beginning to recognise that there is a real crisis in mental health. This survey shows a picture of the very severe pressure that frontline staff are under in terms of securing the care that people need. The NHS doesn’t have the resources to cope with the ever increasing demand. The system doesn’t have the services to provide everyone with the care they need.”
Care minister Norman Lamb says this is not acceptable and has confirmed that the government will scrutinise local NHS plans to ensure mental health care is on par with physical health care.