Blackpool Gazette: Blackpool A&E crisis cases top UK list

Tuesday 30th May 2017

New research by Parliament Street has revealed the extent of lack of funding and provision related to mental health incidents. By analysing police case reports, Parliament Street identified more than 300,000 cases related to people with a mental disorder, who felt they had no other support around them.

Speaking to the Blackpool Gazette, Danny Bowman, our mental health spokesman, said that the statistics:  ‘draw a devastating picture of the number of people suffering from a mental health crisis ending up in A&E’.

The article can be read here or alternatively can be read below:

Blackpool A&E crisis cases top UK list

An average of two people a day are being admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital after taking life-threatening overdoses, it has emerged.

More people arrived at A&E suffering from a mental health crisis in Blackpool than anywhere else last year.

Medics in casualty helped care for an average of 29 such patients every day last year, figures obtained by a think tank have shown.

 An average of two people every day were admitted to hospital after taking ‘high lethality’ overdoses, while 1,613 people showed a ‘moderate’ risk of self-harm. A smaller number of 401 showed signs of hurting others.
Parliament Street, which collated the figures through a series of requests under freedom of information laws, said they ‘draw a devastating picture of the number of people suffering from a mental health crisis ending up in A&E’.

And Lancashire GP Dr David Wrigley, who is the British Medical Association Council’s deputy chairman, said: “Over the years, mental health services have suffered huge cuts to its budget and we have seen waiting times increase for many patients.”

The town’s transient population, poverty levels, and troubles with drugs and booze, have also been blamed.

One mum, whose daughter climbed on top of Wilko in Blackpool town centre twice in two days last year, said she felt ‘let down’ by professionals.

 She spoke out after her daughter had been taken by ambulance to The Orchard, a mental health facility in Lancaster, after first being talked down from the rooftop.

Hours later, after being assessed by two psychologists, she was deemed fit to leave, the mum said, and the young woman returned to Wilko the next day.

She was again talked down, and this time arrested in the hope she would see a mental health worker while in the cells at Bonny Street Police Station.

“I was confident that, because this was a second time it had happened, she would get help, but I got a call at 7pm saying she was ready to be collected,” the mum said.

“I just feel very let down by the mental health services, not just in the last week but the last few years.

“It’s very disjointed. She will work with one service, and then be put on a waiting list for another.

“She did a course recently and she came out with a lavender bag she can smell. What good is that?”

“She was with CAMHs (child and adolescent mental health services) until she was 16, and then she had to wait until she was 18 for adult services. There was nothing for her in between.”

Speaking to The Gazette today, she added: “I think they [mental health workers] are over-loaded and there’s too many people for them to deal with, so they divert them to A&E.

“My daughter is in a place of safety for 12 hours and then sent back home.”

Lancashire Care said it couldn’t comment for patient confidentiality reasons, but said last August it experienced ‘an increased demand’ for beds, and said: “Our number one priority has been to ensure our patients receive the highest quality care when they need it.”

Dr David Wrigley, British Medical Association Council’s deputy chairman, said those who could not access treatment before their condition escalates would usually go to A&E, which he said was an ‘inappropriate’ place for them, and warned some even end up in police cells for the night.

He also said the days of large mental health hospitals were gone, but said a balance needs to be struck.

He added: “There are so few beds now that the NHS has to use private beds and they cost a fortune. It has gone too far the other way. We need a balance of appropriate treatment in the community and enough beds for when people are in real need.”

Toni Roethling, who quit her job as headteacher at Hodgson Academy in Poulton last year to care for her mentally ill daughter, told The Gazette: “More broadly, we need more resources and mental health services need to look at how people will function in society.

“Mental health facilities are not constructed in ways that address social needs and how people live and can have a role in society.

“People get a lot of help when they are admitted — and getting admitted is very hard — but it’s what happens next.

“The people working in mental health are working very hard, but the resources are limited and sometimes their vision is limited. They work with the crisis, get them out of it, and then pass them on to community mental health, and what they offer is very limited.”

Lancashire Care said: “As a provider of children’s mental health services, LCFT has seen an increase in both demand and complexity of presentations over the past few years, which presents increasing challenges to service delivery. The trust is working with local commissioners and NHS England to identify any gaps in provision and develop ways to ensure that they can continue to provide a robust, clinically effective service for children, young people and families now and in the future.”

It’s not possible to say for sure what effect this has directly, but both waiting times and the number of people walking out increased last year as medics treated a rising number of patients.

The figures fuelled fears over the level of spending on the NHS as health chiefs work to plug a £10m funding gap.

Patients arriving by ambulance waited an average of just under 10 minutes for an initial assessment in 2016, up from just over five and a half minutes the year before. The average wait for treatment was around 70 minutes, five minutes longer than in 2015, and the total amount of time spent in A&E topped three hours and 20 minutes, up from just under three as staff saw an extra 15 people every day.

An extra 1,251 patients left without receiving treatment too, with the total number walking out going up from 3.82 per cent to 5.02 per cent, or 4,400 people.

Labour’s candidate for Blackpool South in next month’s election, Gordon Marsden, said: “A lot of people are admitted too late, often to A&E, when they could have been better cared for at home.”

But it’s not just the impact on staff working inside A&E, but on emergency workers elsewhere too. Rachel Baines, the chair of the Lancashire Police Federation, voiced her concern recently after three police cars and two vans were photographed outside the casualty department.

None of the officers manning them were thought to have been dealing with criminal matters.

She said: “We have made inquiries as to why these officers were at the hospital and it appears they were mostly dealing with issues such as missing persons and mental health issues.

“While these are important, it does demonstrate the difficulties we are facing on a daily basis.”

And Clive Grunshaw, Police and Crime Commissioner, blamed cuts to the NHS, mental health services, and adult social care, for an increase in police calls. He said: “We have seen a significant number of calls coming to the police in these areas and it is these calls which add to the complexity of the work.

“They are the unintended consequences of cuts to local authorities. Nobody shouts about it but there are services not being provided to people in crisis.”

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