Derbyshire children having to travel 50 miles for mental health treatment they need

editorial image

Derbyshire youngsters in need of mental health care beds are forced to travel an average of 50 miles for treatment.

This is the equivalent of travelling from Ashbourne to Manchester or from Derby to Birmingham for care.

Data revealed in a Freedom of Information request found that 22 children and young people have been sent to non-local beds for mental health treatment so far this year – up to August.

Over the past five years, 156 children were sent to non-local mental health beds.

The highest number in a year since 2014 was 44 children in 2015.

MORE ON THIS: ‘This is not the end of your story’ Hopes that messages of support attached to Chesterfield bridge will deter suicide

The average distance which young patients have been made to travel has varied over the years, rising to its peak over the last five years at 50 miles.

At its lowest point over the past five years, in 2014, the average distance was 36 miles.

NHS England, which commissions non-local mental health care, said that there are multiple reasons that a patient may be admitted to an inpatient bed which is outside of their home commissioning hub area (Derbyshire).

It may be that it is the nearest hospital to the patient’s home address but outside the normal patient pathways for the home commissioning hub area.

Alternatively, it could be that the patient has highly specialised needs which cannot be met within the hub area, and finally, safeguarding issues.

A spokesperson for NHS England said that more beds had been opened in the region and that the demand for some specialist care, which could see youngsters ending up in these beds, is low.

She said: “We absolutely understand the importance of caring for children and young people as close to home as possible, and the impact on them and their families when this cannot happen.

“We do everything we can to ensure patients can be treated close to home and have opened 20 new beds in the East Midlands over the last year to make that more possible.

“Ensuring young people receive the right care and treatment will always be the priority, and for some of the rarer specialties within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services , such as eating disorder beds, low-or-medium secure facilities, specialised learning disabilities or Psychiatric Intensive Care, this can mean further to travel.

“Because the overall numbers needing such specialities are very low, it would be impossible to have every service available in every local area.

“There is such low demand for some specialties that the service is provided nationally and there may only be one or two units in the country that have the right facilities and expertise to meet the need of those young people.

“For young people requiring general inpatient mental health care, we can usually offer that more locally, unless the local facility has no available beds or the family prefer an alternative location.

“There is currently good availability of general adolescent beds.”

In May, Healthwatch Derbyshire, which lobbies for improvements on behalf of residents in the county, revealed the outcome of a survey it conducted into mental health services for children and young people.

In its report, youngsters with mental health conditions voiced searing criticism of the help and support available.

In addition, some parents and carers felt that there was insufficient support for those looking after children and young people with mental health difficulties.

Young people with mental health issues using the service also found that assistance from their GP was lacking, stating that the they received the advice of “just go for a walk or do something fun”, insinuations that their parents were failing and that they were denied referrals.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service