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Webinar to reveal ‘alarming’ number of young people in mental health wards far from home

The “stark shortage” of hospital beds on teenage mental health wards in the UK will be the focus of an upcoming online event.

Clinicians and people affected by mental health problems are invited to hear the results of a national study that has identified a shortage of hospital beds on general adolescent psychiatric wards, forcing hundreds of teenagers to travel miles or wait weeks until being admitted.

Taking place on Thursday, March 21, between 12.30pm and 1.45pm, the free-to-attend webinar will explore how the study’s results will impact future research, clinical practice and service development.

The ‘Far Away from Home’ study was a collaboration between five National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaborations (ARCs) – East Midlands, East of England, Greater Manchester, Oxford & Thames Valley and West Midlands.

Senior author Professor Kapil Sayal, from the University of Nottingham, said: “The study examined the scale, impact and costs of admissions of under 18s to mental health units at distance from their home to a different NHS region, or to adult wards, and I am deeply concerned about the stark shortage of hospital beds.

“This webinar presents an opportunity for young people, parents, researchers, clinicians, service managers and commissioners of mental health services to hear the findings from the ‘Far Away from Home’ study and discuss ideas for future research, clinical practice and service development.”

During the online event, researchers will present national data on the frequency, clinical characteristics and outcomes of 290 admissions collected over a 13-month period, including follow-up data.

In addition, they will present findings from interviews with young people, parents and healthcare professionals on the impact of these admissions.

Co-author Dr Josephine Holland, from the University of Nottingham, said: “Young people are waiting a long time for a mental health bed, something which those who have assessed them feel they need as a matter of emergency.

“This forces them to wait in places which are not quite right for a young person experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The study was funded by the NIHR ARC East Midlands. The organisation funds vital work to tackle the region’s health and care priorities by speeding up the adoption of research onto the frontline of health and social care. It puts in place evidence-based innovations which seek to drive up standards of care and save time and money.

Published on: 26 Jan 2024