Our reaction to interim report of Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care

The Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care led by former NHS boss Lord Crisp has found that significant numbers of people are having to travel long distances for care, while about three patients per ward – 16% nationally – are clinically well enough to be discharged but face a lack of suitable housing or supported accommodation, it says.

At Richmond Fellowship we think the voluntary sector could make a significant contribution and are keen to work more in partnership with local agencies to provide the right support to people at the right time.

Lord Crisp, who released the interim findings on 15 July, was asked by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to head a commission researching the issue. The key findings from the report were that:

  • The so-called bed or admission crisis in adult mental health is very significantly a problem of discharges and alternatives to admission that can only be addressed through changes in services and management of the whole system.
  • A Commission survey of acute adult psychiatric wards found that 92% of wards surveyed are treating patients who could have been treated by other services if they had been available. In practice, this applies to approximately three patients per ward (16%)
  • The survey also found that approximately three patients per ward (16%) are clinically well enough to be discharged from inpatient care, but cannot be because of other factors.

Richmond Fellowship chief executive Derek Caren said: “As a voluntary sector organisation we’re committed to playing our part in creating joined-up services that can truly provide the best possible care for people with mental health problems, especially in a crisis situation when individuals are at their most vulnerable.

“We know there is a lot of pressure on emergency and inpatient provision but at the same time we know that many individuals could be effectively supported in community settings. We’re keen to forge strong partnerships with local agencies on the ground so that together we can provide effective services that meet people’s needs.”

Richmond Fellowship is a national signatory to the Crisis Care Concordat. We already run a number of crisis services across England, providing support for people in the community as either an alternative option to an admission to hospital or as a step-down between an inpatient stay and returning home. This includes services in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and the North East.

We’re also running a pilot scheme with the Home Office to trial an alternative ‘place of safety’ to police custody for individuals in mental distress. It’s the first time a voluntary sector provider is working in partnership with the NHS and police to provide an alternative place of safety to give a better experience for people who are detained pending a mental health assessment.

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