Hundreds of mental health patients spent more than 12 hours in Blackburn hospital A&E
HUNDREDS of mental health patients have spent more than 12 hours in A&E for treatment over the last four years- and the numbers are rising.
In 2018, there were 257 breaches of the 12-hour target waiting time for mental health patients at Royal Blackburn Hospital A&E.
That is a huge rise from just 31 patients in 2016 and 61 in 2017, with health campaigners blaming a lack of community beds. The figure for so far this year is 64 already, meaning there have been 413 breaches in four years, according to freedom of information responses from East Lancashire Hospitals Trust (ELHT).
The figures also show that one patient waited more than three days in the Royal Blackburn Hospital's emergency department for a bed last year, while this year, a patient has waited more than two days, from 'Decision to Admit'.
That is the time at which a full mental health assessment has been carried out and it has been determined that the patient requires an admission.
Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: "This is disgusting.
"A lack of mental health beds in the community is driving more vulnerable people to A&E.
"What's needed is more money and action rather than warm words from commissioners."
Burnley's MP Julie Cooper described the situation as a national scandal.
She said: "We've seen a shocking rise in the number of people facing mental health issues which is increasing demand.
"Staff in A&Es are doing the best they can with the resources they have but they simply don't have enough.
"Care in the community for mental health patients is vital but it's non-existent.
"The situation is a national scandal."
Lisa Moorhouse, head of operations for the mental health network, at Lancashire Care Foundation Trust, the county's main mental health organisation, admitted the situation was unacceptable.
She said reasons for the rise in 12-hour breaches at A&Es included higher numbers of patients attending in crisis.
She said: “It is not acceptable for people to have to attend A&E or to wait for lengthy periods of time should they need a bed and we can assure our service users that we are working hard to improve.
“There are a number of factors contributing to an increase in 12 hour breaches at emergency departments.
"These include higher numbers of our patients attending in crisis, difficulties securing specialist provision for some service users, and inefficiencies in our community services, all of which impact on our ability to support patients in a timely way."
She added: “However, we have now developed a system wide improvement plan with all partners who contribute to the delivery of mental health care. We have also have secured additional funding to increase support in the community 24 hours a day and we are working with Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (NTW) who have a CQC rating of ‘outstanding’ to learn from their approach to managing mental health urgent care pathways.
“We recognise that changes are required to the way our services work as well as investment in additional provision. Lancashire Care and our commissioners have already implemented some actions and discussions are continuing regarding further funding in-line with the national mental health investment standard.”
Sharon Gilligan, director of operations for emergency services at ELHT said: “Our position with regard to mental health patients has not changed.
"The safety of all patients is our first priority and when a patient with mental health needs attends A&E, we have plans in place to care for them until they can be assessed by a specialist mental health professional from Lancashire Care."
"If a patient requires admission to a mental health bed and no bed is immediately available, a full risk assessment is completed, a care plan developed which may include additional staff to support the patient and regular reviews are undertaken by the mental health liaison team from Lancashire Care."