A Norfolk MP has said the lack of mental health provision in the Anglia region is a human rights abuse.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb’s said he was 'horrified' to read an investigation by the British Medical Association that revealed hundreds of patients are being ‘warehoused’ in privately run premises, miles away from home.
The MP also said there is no incentive for these private facilities to discharge patients, as every day they have a patient in the bed is a day they can charge the NHS for their services.
The NHS paid of £181 million last year to private firms to treat people with mental illnesses.
The BMA found that people suffering serious mental health issues were being sent hundreds of miles away for treatment, highlighting the case of one Northamptonshire patient who was sent to Glasgow for treatment in their report, published today.
Mr Lamb said that patients who are sent away to private facilities are more likely to be subject to physical force and restraint and are more likely to commit suicide.
The BMA’s report noted that the problem was particularly prevalent at the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, where last year patients faced a round trip of upto 227 miles to get access to private care, due to a lack of local provision. Mr Lamb said:
The BMA found that NHS Luton CCG is among several trusts who are spending their entire mental health budget on sending patients to private facilities. Last year, that was almost £2 million pounds. NHS Luton CCG has seen it's own mental health wards disappear completely, meaning they are now entirely reliant on paying private hospitals to treat their patients.
Mr Lamb said:
ITV Anglia spoke to a patient from near Colchester who was told she would have to travel to Kent for treatment when she suffered a psychotic episode last year and was sectioned.
Liz Rotherham refused to leave her home town and family, and as a result was locked in a room in what she calls 'solitary confinement'. She says she still has nightmares about the experience.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have joined Norman Lamb in condemning the NHS’s lack of mental health provision, saying it is failing patients like Liz.
Dr Raj Mohan, Chair of the Rehabilitation and Social Psychiatry Faculty, Royal College of Psychiatrists said:
The BMA lead for mental health, psychiatrist, Dr Andrew Molodynski, said: