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Children are still being forced to travel far for mental healthcare

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 04 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3769
  1. Jonathan Owen
  1. London

Despite a government pledge to end the practice, more than a thousand children were sent outside their local area last year for NHS inpatient mental health treatment. Experts tell Jonathan Owen that the figure is still “unacceptably high”

Official figures show that 1039 children and teenagers in England with acute mental health problems were sent for inpatient treatment outside their local areas last year, in some cases hundreds of kilometres away.

The newly released NHS England figures, obtained by the Labour shadow health minister Barbara Keeley and seen by The BMJ, show that 61% of clinical commissioning groups in England sent at least one patient aged under 18 out of their area last year because of bed shortages.

A third of CCGs sent under 18s at least 100 miles (160 km) away from their home, with more than one in seven sending patients more than 150 miles for treatment.

The concerning figures, described by Keeley as a “national scandal,” come despite the increased suicide …

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