On Sunday, Dr Bohdan Solomka told the BBC that this lack of beds applied to both the NHS and private providers. This revelation from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has prompted a call for delays in planned bed closures.
NHS England have responded saying it is up to local NHS commissioners to ensure their patients get access to the care they need.
Up until Sunday night, Dr Solomka (medical director of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust) confirmed that “there were no adult acute inpatient beds in England available to us either from the NHS or private providers.”
Norwich MP Clive Lewis responded by asking for a suspension of the bed closures planned to take place in Norfolk and Suffolk. He wants this suspension to continue until community services are better able to cope with the increasing levels of demand.
Lewis has also asked for a review to be carried out on the support from NHS England and the clinical commissioning groups for the area, which fund the beds.
He went on to say that it’s a ‘national disgrace’ that mental health beds aren’t available for those in need.
“It is simply unimaginable that in the event of a heart attack someone would be left with no A&E bed available anywhere in the country. Why is this accepted for those with a mental rather than physical health crisis?”
Dr Solomka says more needs to be done and that a more ‘multi-tool’ response is required,
“It’s about freeing up community beds and housing, so we’re looking at the whole system.”
Terry Skyrme, from the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, says the shortage is simply down to underinvestment. He pointed out that the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust is still closing beds, despite having patients out of the area and after being told that they must have a sufficient number of local beds for local needs.
A spokesperson from NHS England said those with mental health needs deserve the same care as those with physical needs.
“Local NHS commissioners, providers and the local authority need to continue to work together to ensure all patients needing help for their mental health get the care and support they need.”