Cuts in Mental Health Beds
Posted: Sunday, November 29th, 2015
Living with Schizophrenia has long been strongly critical of the government’s policy of cutting mental health beds in the UK. Now a recent investigation by the respected journal Community Care and the BBC has found that, as we suspected, people have been dying because of lack of beds. In fact seven suicides and one homicide have been linked to the lack of beds between 2012 and 2014.
Community Care reported that over 2,100 mental health beds have been closed in the UK since April 2011 with 468 beds closing during 2014 alone. In addition funding for home treatment teams has been cut by almost two percent whilst referrals to them rose by 16%.
The seriousness of the situation has not been hidden from ministers. Then health minister Jeremy Hunt was warned about the problem by a senior coroner in December 2013 and in September of that year Wendy Wallace, head of Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust warned NHS England that there were no mental health beds available in London.
In Community Care’s report Steve Chamberlain from the College of Social work summed up succinctly when he commented that if people were dying of heart attacks because of lack of beds there would be a national outcry.
Schizophrenia remains one of the biggest public health challenges in the UK today with over a quarter of a million people being treated for the condition by the NHS. Although modern medication can provide some answers relapse is an unfortunate feature of the illness. It is vital that sufficient beds are available in the NHS for people with schizophrenia when they are in crisis and any attempt to cut beds when mental health problems are becoming more prevalent in our society today must be roundly condemned.<< Back to blog