The National Health Service in England is sending patients with serious cases of eating disorders to Scotland to seek treatment due to bed shortages which make their treatment in England too difficult.
Mental health experts are showing concerns for the trend and proposing that it might increase the death risks of vulnerable patients.
Mainly teenagers and young adults are getting residential care in Glasgow and near Edinburgh, miles away from their hometown. Experts have expressed their concerns over the isolation of these patients from their homes and families, even possibly increasing their risks of dying.
The growing number of cases of psychiatric illnesses and eating disorders in England is slowly outweighing the number of beds available for their treatment and causing a compromise for the quality of treatment that these patients are receiving.
Chief executive of Anorexia and Bulimia Care states, “I’ve seen a rise in calls from people saying their children have been sent far away, miles away, to be looked after because there are either no services nearby or they are full. This is a life-threatening situation for young people. People are in inpatient care because they are at risk of dying. They are in a very fragile, risky state.”
Patient cases have shown that despite the possible good quality of treatment far from home, the distance does compromise the care and show negative side effects.
20-year-old Rebecca Doidge from St. Albans in Hertfordshire was sent to Priory private hospital in Glasgow early 2016 after seeking urgent treatment. She says, “The outcomes are going to be better if you can stay near home. It’s really hard to integrate back home or go to another environment when discharged if you are in a different country. It makes communication between those treating you in hospital and those at home difficult.” She even explained that Priory, which holds 25-30 beds, hosts significantly more English than Scottish patients.
In response to this issue, an NHS spokeswoman has said, “The NHS recently laid out very clear plans to expand staff and services for specialist eating disorders and other mental health problems, in order to tackle and eliminate distant out-of-area placements.
“Transformation won’t happen overnight but work is under way to improve services for everyone and to make sure care is available at home or as close to home as possible when a patient needs more intensive therapy. To help achieve this, the government has allocated a cumulative £1.4bn to children and young people’s mental health services over the next five years, and the new waiting time for eating disorder patients will ensure patients get better care more quickly,” she added.