Wrexham Mental Health lawyer says new figures show dire beds situation for mental health patients in Wales is a nationwide problem

A Wrexham mental health lawyer and campaigner for the enforcement of rights for mental health patients says figures released today have proved that the current ‘dire’ situation in the beleaguered ‘in special measures’ Betsi Cadwaladwr UHB is clearly a nationwide problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

John Lancaster, a Senior Solicitor with leading North Wales and Shropshire law firm GHP Legal, made the statement following the release of statistics by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) showing a 10% increase in the number of patients detained in England since last year. Evidence from the BBC Panorama programme broadcast on 26th October showed doctors being forced to detain patients under the Mental Health Act in order to secure a hospital bed for them.

It is quite clear,” said Mr Lancaster, “that doctors are having to section patients in order to get them treated and that is scandalous.

In Betsi Cadwaladwr UHB the position for detained patients needing a locked ward place is pretty dire. There are no psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) beds at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd at St Asaph. Patients in North Wales are sent to Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor or Wrexham Maelor Hospital, depending on where beds are available.  Sometimes no beds on either PICU ward are available and North Wales patients are sent to private hospitals in North West England.

In many cases patients just need a quiet place of refuge where they can receive help and healing. They should not have to be deprived of their liberty to get there. Indeed to be deprived of their liberty can itself be damaging to their well-being. In addition they are being sent to unfamiliar surroundings far away from family and friends, which is distressing not only for them but also for their loved ones who may not be able to travel to see them.

Instead of less beds being available every year there needs to be more. And they need to be readily available without the need for enforced detention to secure them.”