Kent’s NHS Mental Health Trust spent £5.6 million on private hospital beds for patients last year – because it had slashed its own acute ward numbers and didn’t have the resources to care for them, my Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Nearly one patient per day was sent to private hospitals (dotted all around the country) on average by the Kent and Medway Partnership Trust (KMPT) in 2013. Now, reacting to press questioning, the KMPT say they realize they need to create more beds.
Why did they shut their wards to start with?
It was clear they were already under pressure, as their own hard-working staff could have told them. Profit-making private hospitals around the country must be delighted to be raking in tax payer’s cash that had been designated for NHS spending.
Whilst there may sometimes be scope for specialist private care, having the equivalent of eight entire wards worth of patients in private care in just one quarter (148 patients, Q2 2013) at the cost of millions strikes me as a distinct sign of poor resource management by KMPT managers.
The KM has covered the story here.
Do you work in the sector or have experience in it as a service user or staff? I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line.
With suicide the single biggest killer of men in the UK under the age of 50 and the numbers of people being sectioned rising, well staffed and resourced mental health facilities are vital.
It doesn’t help that the government is hell-bent on pressuring vulnerable people into work, even unpaid work, for which they are desperately unready or unequipped. Under the government’s welfare reforms, most are being forced to complete a controversial test, called the work capability assessment (WCA), currently conducted by private contractor Atos – but those supposed to be finding them work/sanctioning them are not being provided with the WCA and as one whistleblower told the Guardian, she worried every night about whether those she was seeing would be alive the next day.
Some Green Party policies I like on this front are encouraging all Local Authorities to appoint a Mental Health Champion, to advocate on behalf of people with mental health issues with regard to housing provision, employment and education access and other local services. The Green Party also recognises that many people working with those with mental health difficulties, such as mental health nurses, social workers and support staff, work long hours, in difficult conditions, on relatively low pay and often with insecure job tenure. We would seek to improve the conditions and pay as well as the status of these important roles. This would aid in the retention of staff and, as a result, in providing continuity of care.