Lord Crisp hails NELFT NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health for caring for patients close to home | News and events

Lord Crisp hails NELFT NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health for caring for patients close to home | News and events

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NELFT NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of  community health and mental health services across the north east London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Essex and Kent and Medway and Barnet.

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Lord Crisp hails NELFT NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health for caring for patients close to home

NELFT NHS Foundation Trust is bucking the trend by treating people with mental health concerns close to home and not sending them long distances to find a hospital bed, something often cited as a major factor leading to suicide.

As an organisation that has not relocated patients for many years, NELFT has been hailed as one of the best trusts in the UK in an influential report which condemns the ‘dangerous’ health sector-wide practice of sending patients hundreds of miles out of area to be treated.

A report by The Independent Commission on Improving Acute Psychiatric Care For Adults in England heralded NELFT’s high quality, innovative inpatient and community mental health services as examples of best practice  in meeting the needs of people with mental health concerns.

The Commission, chaired by ex-NHS chief Lord Crisp, said NELFT’s re-design of its mental health services, which ensures all patients have a single point of access for care, the availability of an inpatient bed close to home if they need one and its trailblazing community mental health service, is an example for other healthcare providers to follow.

Lord Crisp visited NELFT in October last year with fellow members of the Commission to learn more about its pioneering mental health services.

Stephanie Dawe, NELFT’s chief nurse, said: “It is very important people can get the help they need within their own communities. When you are in crisis, feeling scared and vulnerable your family and friends form a vital support network that is really important to recovery, and the last thing we want is for patients at this time is to travel hundreds of miles to get the help they you need.

 “We pride ourselves on providing high quality, innovative mental health services, and realised there had to be more investment in our home-based treatment as this is where our patients say they prefer to be treated, and the recovery rates are better.

“Although we ensure all patients who need an inpatient mental health bed receive one close to home, we realised the answers lie not just in providing more beds, but accessing the whole system.

“This is why we have extensively re-designed our services to ensure all patients receive the care they need, and rightly deserve, in the place that is best for them - and which is close to home.

“NELFT now provides the highest ratio of acute home treatment to inpatient care and the lowest acute bed base across the whole of London, so it shows that with reducing bed numbers due to improved community care, we can still provide high quality mental health services for people in crisis.”

NELFT scores highly in the Friends and Family test with 84 per cent saying they would recommend services.

Stephanie Dawe added:  “This is also why we ensure our mental health services enable a greater role for patients and carers in the services they use.”

Lord Crisp’s  ‘Old Problems, New Solutions’ report, said that nationally some 500 patients travel more than 50km (31 miles) to access care each month - as acute inpatient beds or services are unavailable in their areas, which ‘is potentially dangerous’.

The report findings, backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP), recommends changes to how services are commissioned, and cites NELFT’s mental health inpatient and community services as leading the field.

The government has asked the NHS to cut unnecessary out-of-area treatments.