Two kept in police cells instead of a hospital
Yet another mental health patient kept in police cell instead of a hospital. This time for three days in King’s Lynn police station because of no available hospital beds. This brings the total to two in January this year just in Norfolk.
Why only mental health patients?
Three days is just ridiculous. This patient needed help and yet was not taken to hospital to be correctly treated. Anybody else with an illness gets taken to a hospital. But with mental health illnesses it seems perfectly acceptable to allow patients to stay locked in a cell watched over by a non-qualified officer.
Loss of beds are to blame
Since 2012, 136 beds have been cut in Norfolk and Suffolk. This is a total loss of a quarter since 2012.
December 2016 and January 2017 the number of patients detained by Norfolk police under section 136 of the Mental Health Act was zero.
In these cases, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) struggled to source beds for those arrested, rather than those sectioned, who then needed mental health treatment.
Is a cell the best alternative to hospital bed?
In the two cases mentioned in this article the men were arrested on suspicion of a criminal offence, and were then given mental health assessments. Those assessments recommended hospitalising the men, but no beds were found! Surely a police cell is not the next best thing to a hospital bed is it?
Norfolk Constabulary said: “Police worked tirelessly with partners to identify a suitable placement, however mental health beds were in demand. In both of these incidents it was decided that the safest place for the men was in our custody under our and other health professionals care.”
Emma Corlett, a Norfolk County councillor, has raised the issue of mental health sufferers needing treatment kept in police cells with Lorne Green the police and crime commissioner for Norfolk. Emma Corlett said:
“I will be suggesting that the health overview and scrutiny committee at the county council looks at the issue.”
Debbie White, the director of operations for the NSFT, said:
“As soon as the assessment was complete, beds with an appropriate level of security were sought. In one case, due to the additional highly complex nature of the person’s physical healthcare needs, it was agreed that a highly specialist placement was required and was the best thing for the patient”
In December 2016, patients spent 398 nights in mental health beds outside of Norfolk and Suffolk because not enough beds could be found within the area covered by NSFT.
The Trust is expects to spend £3m more than budgeted this year on treating patients in other beds. Beds are needed for mental health patients throughout the uk.
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