Each year, numerous patients in England are being re-hospitalized to NHS mental health facilities shortly after being released, causing worries about inadequate treatment, lack of beds, and heightened chances of suicide.
According to experts, being released from care too early can be distressing and hinder the patient’s ability to fully recover, which can have disastrous consequences for their health.
Statistics from mental health trusts in England indicate that in the previous year, nearly 5,000 individuals, including both children and adults, were rehospitalized within a month of being discharged from a mental health facility.
Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, a member of the Labour Party, expressed concern over the “disturbing” information she acquired through freedom of information requests. The data revealed that a significant number of patients were not receiving adequate support for their recovery.
According to the information received by Allin-Khan, 3,381 patients were rehospitalized within 30 days of being discharged from 35 out of the 54 specialist mental trusts in England during the year 2022-2023. Based on these numbers, it is estimated that a total of 4,927 individuals were readmitted within a month across all 54 trusts.
In the fiscal year 2022-23, 1,972 individuals were admitted back into 36 trusts within a week after being discharged. This is something that NHS mental health services acknowledge should never occur. Based on these statistics, it can be estimated that 2,794 people returned to inpatient care within seven days across the 54 care providers, according to a study conducted by a Member of Parliament.
Allin-Khan said: “With record waiting lists and mental health beds in short supply, it is alarming that many patients are being discharged only to be readmitted within days. Every patient expects to receive full and appropriate mental health support, so it is concerning that in many cases patients are being discharged prematurely.
Releasing a patient from care prematurely can have severe consequences, hindering their journey towards complete recuperation and potentially worsening their mental well-being.
The data indicates a decrease in both seven- and 30-day readmissions. There were 2,336 confirmed seven-day readmissions in 2017-18 and 4,338 confirmed 30-day readmissions during the same time frame.
However, professionals stated that if patients, who are still mentally vulnerable, were to be readmitted to the hospital shortly after being discharged, it could have severe consequences. This could increase the likelihood of them attempting to take their own life.
In the past year, Mersey Care trust had the most 30-day readmissions at 321, followed by East London (298) and Sussex Partnership (278) trusts. The Barnet, Enfield and Haringey (191), Lancashire and South Cumbria (185), and East London (159) trusts had the highest number of seven-day readmissions.
According to Marjorie Wallace, the CEO of Sane, the statistics are shocking. She expressed concern over the high number of readmissions, which she believes is due to insufficient support from community-based mental health teams after patients are discharged. This lack of support can have serious consequences, even leading to tragic cases of suicide.
Wallace expressed worry about the increasing reports of patients who suffer unexpected deaths after being discharged. The first 48 hours after discharge pose the highest risk for suicide, especially for patients who are sent home alone to an unsupportive living situation without any resources for assistance.
According to the speaker, there is a need for mental health workers to accompany at-risk patients and follow up with them after they are discharged. However, individuals who have reached out to us report that this support is not always provided. The team responsible for this may not arrive for several days and in some cases, they arrive too late.
According to NHS data, approximately 100,000 individuals are admitted to mental health, autism, and learning disability facilities in England every year. Slightly more than half of them have been involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act.
The head of the Centre for Mental Health thinktank, Andy Bell, expressed his approval for the decrease in readmissions within seven and thirty days. However, he also expressed concern that a high number of individuals are still returning to the hospital shortly after being discharged. Although the numbers are decreasing, this experience can be distressing for anyone.
In the past three decades, there has been a significant decrease in the number of mental health beds available in the NHS.
NHS England stated that Allin-Khan’s use of the received figures to represent all 54 trusts was incorrect. However, it did not provide an explanation for the readmissions or directly address the results.
The spokesperson stated that it is inaccurate to extrapolate data without complete responses. NHS mental health teams aim to release patients at the appropriate time. Additionally, as part of the NHS long-term plan, there will be a yearly increase in funding of £2.3 billion for mental health services.
This amount of funding, which totals nearly £1 billion annually, is being used to improve community mental health services. These services aim to assist individuals in maintaining their well-being after being discharged.