The NHS is at huge risk, as are the most vulnerable people in our society. Here's how the different parties would aim to tackle mental health careby Lucy Maddox / May 25, 2017 / Leave a comment
It is Friday night, and A&E staff are trying to work out what to do for a 14 year-old boy found wandering the streets of a London borough, naked from the waist down, not making sense. It is clear he is having unusual ideas and hearing things that other people can’t. He needs to be somewhere safe. A&E is busy and chaotic. There are specialist psychiatric wards designed for under-18s, where professionals help young people and their families understand what is going on and offer treatment. None of the London adolescent wards have a bed free, though. The only option is a bed on an adult ward, inappropriate and illegal, or a bed three hours away, far from family or friends.
Earlier the same day the senior nurse of a gastroenterology ward in another major UK city calls around trying to find a bed for a 15-year-old girl with anorexia. She has been on the gastro ward for over a week, eating just enough to stabilise, still extremely underweight and likely to deteriorate without specialist support. The girl is not in the right place to get the psychiatric treatment she needs, and is in a bed which a gastro patient needs. Eventually, the nurse finds a psychiatric bed—a five hour journey away.