A young mother who was threatening to hang herself had to sleep in a reclining chair at the Royal Blackburn Hospital because no beds were available – before she was transferred 250 miles away to London.
The shocking case of the young Burnley woman was brought to light by the town’s MP Julie Cooper who was informed of her experience by the woman’s family.
The mum, who has a five-year-old daughter, was eventually treated at the Priory in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, as there were no nearer mental health beds available.
She was initially cared for in the Towneley Unit at the Royal Blackburn Hospital where she had to wait 23 hours for an assessment before being transferred more than 200 miles away.
Mrs Cooper slammed the Lancashire Care NHS Trust’s handling of the case and demanded a more local bed be made available.
The Trust has admitted that an increased demand for inpatient mental health service meant that patients sometimes had to be treated outside the area.
Mrs Cooper, who raised the issue in the House of Commons, said: “This is truly an appalling state of affairs. The elderly and mentally ill really do bear the brunt of an NHS in crisis.
“Every week in my surgery I hear of their suffering at the hands of a poorly resourced and inadequately staffed NHS.
“The family of this lady cannot visit their daughter as they cannot afford the rail fare to make the 200 mile journey.
“I have written to the Professor Heather Tierney-Moore, chief executive of Lancashire Care NHS Trust, to request that a bed within reasonable travelling distance be found for this vulnerable lady as a matter of urgency so that this dreadful situation does not continue.
“I mention all of this not as a criticism of any of our NHS workers – far from it; they are at the sharp end doing their best in an impossible situation. They work in the health service because they care, and it pains them to see patients treated in this way.
“Sadly, in my experience of dealing with constituents, none of this is untypical.”
Lisa Moorhouse, Adult Mental Health Network Director at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said the Trust was working to create extra capacity in lancashire.
She added: “On a national level there is an increased demand for inpatient mental health services and this is reflected locally in Lancashire.
“Our main priority is to ensure that people receive the care they need and unfortunately this means that when there are no beds available in the Lancashire area, people are sent out of area for treatment.
“The Trust is working hard to create extra capacity and ensure that patients can be moved back into the Lancashire area as soon as possible when appropriate.
“The Towneley Unit is one example of extra provision that has been put in place since the end of last year to ensure that people receive support for their mental health needs.
“The unit consists of six chairs in place of beds and is aimed at providing a short term safe therapeutic environment where people in crisis can be assessed and then referred to the appropriate service, or be discharged into the community.”