Monday, November 9, 1998 Published at 01:42 GMT
Mentally ill in care vacuum
Emergency care for the mentally ill needs overhauling, says the report
Almost a third of people on acute psychiatric wards have no proper care plan and nothing to do, according to a survey by a leading mental health charity.
One in five is staying too long on the wards because less expensive alternatives are not available.
The charity is calling for an urgent review of emergency psychiatric care.
It wants care to be patient-centred and says this will cut costs by ensuring patients are not unnecessarily held in hospital - the most expensive form of mental health care.
Acute care is designed for short-term crisis care only.
A vacuum of care
The report, Acute Problems, looks at the experience of 200 patients' experience of admission, treatment and discharge from wards.
Dr Matt Muijen, Director of the Sainsbury Centre, said: "There is a tremendous shortage of personalised care that everyone has a right to expect.
"For many people, their experience of acute in-patient care can only be described as a vacuum instead of a therapeutic environment dedicated to the needs of the individual."
The report found that:
One in four
Up to one in four Britons seeks help for mental health problems every year with up to 4% of the population suffering severe mental illness.
Hospital care swallows up two-thirds of the mental health budget for adults. Treating a person in hospital costs around £50,000 a year, compared to £12,000 a year for community care.
In England, the number of acute psychiatric care beds has halved in the last decade, although the number of patients passing through the system has increased sharply.