Nearly 5,500 mental health patients in England had to travel out of their area last year because of a lack of hospital beds, new figures show.
Some patients had to travel nearly 300 miles, while one trust had to declare a major incident.
The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, are 13% higher than last year.
Care Minister Alistair Burt said the problem was unacceptable and promised to stop it within five years.
Being sent “out of area” for treatment means a patient being cared for in a unit not run by the trust whose care they are under.
It can occasionally be appropriate to send a patient outside their area if they need highly specialised care, but experts say that routinely sending people away can increase the risk of suicide – and there have been repeated calls for the practice to be stopped.
But these figures, obtained by BBC News and Community Care magazine show the problem is getting worse.
In 2014-15, 4,804 patients were treated out of area; in 2015-16 that figure had risen to 54,11, a rise of 12.6% (according to data from 42 of 56 trusts).
Data from 28 trusts going back to 2011 shows the ever worsening scale of the problem. In 2011-12 those trusts placed 1,215 patients out of area; in 2015-16 that had risen to 4,093, a rise of 236%.
The patient – Jessica Wilson
Jessica Wilson has suffered from mental health problems for several years, including post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Last December, the 21-year-old, from Louth, in Lincolnshire, became ill and needed a hospital bed.
None was available locally and she was sent to Roehampton in London – 170 miles from home.
“When I found out they were looking in Nottingham, I cried,” says Jessica. “So when I found …read more
Source:: BBC UK