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York patient sent to London hospital due to bed shortage shares their experiences
A PATIENT has told of her experiences when she was sent from York to a hospital in London when she had a psychiatric breakdown due to a shortage of local beds.
Alison*, who is in her 30s, was taken by ambulance to a unit in London in the middle of the night after having a severe episode in the summer.
A series of upsetting events triggered a breakdown related to bipolar disorder – a condition that means moods can swing from one extreme to another.
While mental health professionals tried in vain to find her a bed closer to home, Alison said the only one available was more than 200 miles away, adding to her distress at being in an environment she did not feel comfortable in.
She has spoken about the incident after The Press reported up to £3 million has been spent on sending York and Selby patients to out of area beds since the start of last year – including as far afield as Glasgow and London.
Alison said: “They said to me ‘you are going to be admitted but we can’t keep you here’.
“I was put in an ambulance with three escorts. We drove to London in the middle of the night.
“I cannot fault the care but it was lonely...the fact was I needed to be around people I knew.”
As reported in The Press, the cost of funding out of area beds in private and NHS hospitals is between £1,806,228 and £3,047,148 since the start of 2012, based on variable costs per night.
Patients have been sent out of area 214 times, spending 4,596 nights in hospitals away from their home, between the start of last year and mid-November this year.
Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said patients have been out-of-area due to clinical need and availability of help locally.
Alison, who is now being cared for the intensive home treatment team, said: “Personally I thought it was too far to go. Had I have been local I would have been able to see my friends and family.
“In the future, if it was someone else I think it needs to be somewhere within 50 miles of your home.
“If someone is at the edge and want to commit suicide – which I didn’t – or is not as strong as I was, taking them away from their friends, partner or kids is devastating.
“We are desperately short of mental health beds.”
A spokesman for Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which is responsible for mental health service provision in York and Selby, has said demand for beds could fluctuate. They said: “It is a priority for us to ensure that people are cared for close to home.”
The Trust said action had been taken to reduce the numbers being sent to beds far away.
There are currently 13 beds for women and 16 for men, and a separate elderly unit at York’s Bootham Park Hospital. A ward for high-intensity patients in extreme distress has closed, meaning Bootham can no longer offer psychiatric intensive care.
* Name changed to protect identity
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