Gloucestershire : Care Bed Shortage For Mentally-ill Teens

A Chronic shortage of beds for mentally ill teenagers has been highlighted in the county. Currently teenagers and adolescents requiring mental health treatment have to travel out of Gloucestershire to a specialist unit at Marlborough House in Swindon.

The move often poses massive problems as the young people are separated from their families and friends at a time when they most need support.

If the youngsters require emergency medical mental health treatment and cannot be sent out of the county, they are referred to the adult psychiatric wards at Wotton Lawn in Gloucester.

There they are treated among adults in an adult ward.

A debate on the issue raged at a Patient and Public Involvement Forum meeting organised by Gloucestershire Partnership Foundation Trust in Berkeley this month.

Speaking at the meeting, Richard Townsend, a member of the PPI forum, said: “The concern is what happens to children in an emergency if they need to be supported quickly.

“Marlborough House cannot respond.”

David McGrath, of the trust, which provides mental health care in the county, said: “We are not required to provide inpatient services for children.

“If they want the partnership trust to provide the services, we will be pleased to do it provided it’s economical.

“Not many children need inpatient services and therefore the only way of providing high quality service is to bring children from a wide area into a specialist unit. The downside is that children find themselves far away from home.”

Bosses at the trust also voiced their discontent at a board meeting last week.

Hazel Watson, director of Nursing, Social Care and Allied Health Professionals, told the meeting: “We don’t, as an organisation, provide inpatient services for people under 18.

“If on occasion we have found ourselves having to provide for an emergency situation when nothing is available out of county, we make sure it is as safe and appropriate as we can possibly make it.

“We have a wider role to play in terms of how we respond to young people who need an inpatient service.”

She told The Citizen the situation was not satisfactory and that the trust has applied for funding to offer better services for young people in the county.

She said: “There are currently no inpatient mental health services for young people in Gloucestershire.

“Because of this, when the risk to the individual is great enough for them to need an emergency place of safety, a person under the age of 18 has been admitted on a temporary basis to Wotton Lawn until an out-of-county placement is available.

“On the rare occasions when we have had to admit young people to adult beds, this is for very short periods, they always have their own room and are in daily contact with children’s mental health services.

“We also make every attempt to find suitable alternative beds.

“The trust, the Primary Care Trust and the local authority recognise that this is unsatisfactory and have recently submitted a bid for Department of Health monies to invest in better services for young people from Gloucestershire who need an inpatient service.”