The Tees, Esk And Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust is sending hundreds of mental health patients long distances away for treatment despite a Government pledge to stamp out the practice.
Figures from the NHS show that between June 2017 and May 2018, the trust placed patients with acute mental health needs in inappropriate Out of Area Placements (OAPs) on approximately 515 occasions.
An inappropriate placement is where a patient is admitted for treatment at a facility outside of their usual local network of mental health services because there are no beds available locally.
The mental health charity Mind says the impact of being far away from home on a patient’s mental health “cannot be overstated” and could even increase the risk of suicide.
Geoff Heyes, head of health policy and influencing at Mind, said: “When you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, you’re likely to feel scared, vulnerable and alone, so your support network of family and friends are instrumental to recovery.
The Government has pledged to eliminate inappropriate out of area placements for adults with acute mental health needs by 2020-21.
However, in the 12 months to May, there were still around 8,285 new inappropriate placements made across England.
Elizabeth Moody, director of nursing and governance for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We place service users at the centre of everything we do and aim to provide the highest quality care in the most appropriate setting.
"We recognise the impact of not being admitted to a local hospital can have on service users and their families and nationally, working with local commissioning groups there are plans to reduce this.
“Our Trust provides mental health services to people in County Durham and Darlington, Teesside, North Yorkshire and York and Selby. All adults and older people admissions are managed within the Trust, meaning that anyone that has to be admitted to hospital outside of their immediate locality will be seen within one of our other Trust areas.”