Out of area placements cost the NHS over £112 million last year

Posted On: 
14th March 2019

The NHS has released their latest set of data to show how they are performing in England when it comes to treating people for mental health problems where they live. Regularly publishing these data forms part of its commitment to delivering promises outlined in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, including greater transparency and monitoring of progress.

The data is divided into when sending someone away from home to get treatment was inappropriate and when it was not. Being treated ‘out of area’ can be hugely detrimental to recovery and is almost always clinically inappropriate, which means people are being sent away to get the help they need because of a shortage of bed spaces.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which Mind’s CEO Paul Farmer fed into by chairing an independent taskforce, set out how the NHS would improve mental health services by 2020/21. It promised an extra £1.6bn to help a million people with mental health problems and that by 2021, no one should be sent out of area to receive the treatment they need.

The key statistics from the data for 2018 show:

  • There was a total of 7,655 out of area placements in England for people with mental health problems
  • 96% of mental health out of area placements in 2018 were inappropriate
  • In total, out of area placements cost the NHS over £112 million in 2018
  • Inappropriate placements accounted for £108 million of this figure
  • On average, each inappropriate placement cost the NHS £545 per day
  • The number of inappropriate out of area placements between September and December 2018 was 4% higher than in the same period the year before

Responding to these data, Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:

“The NHS has promised to completely eradicate inappropriate out of area placements, and yet we can see that the number of these placements between September and December last year increased from the same period the year before. This is disturbing. We are nearing the NHS’s own target of zero out of area placements by 2020/21, but the figures are going in the opposite direction. There is a huge amount of work still to do to get the numbers down.

“Too many people with mental health problems are being forced to travel hundreds of kilometres from their friends and family to receive the treatment they need. This can worsen people’s chances of recovery, as well as being expensive for the NHS and the taxpayer. Last year 250 people were sent 300km or more away from home to get help. We urgently need to see investment in mental health services reaching the frontline, so that people can get the treatment they need, when they need it, close to home.

“The NHS has rightly made ambitious commitments for improving mental health care. But while we are waiting for these to be delivered, thousands of people continue to face the traumatic experience of being sent away from home and separated from their support network to get the help they need. This is a crucial year and the urgency of the NHS delivering on its promises cannot be overstated. It must do far better for the people with mental health problems in its care right now.”