Labour Party Media Release:
More patients are self-harming and attempting suicide in NHS hospitals, new figures reveal.
Data obtained by Labour’s Luciana Berger MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health, show the number of suicide attempts and self-harm incidents in mental health hospitals increased by over 50 per cent between 2010 and 2013.
The figures, disclosed by mental health trusts in response to a Labour Party Freedom of Information request, reveal that self-harm and suicide attempts have risen year on year since 2010 with an increase of almost 30 per cent last year alone.
This comes as experts warn that acute mental health services are in crisis and struggling to cope with demand. NHS staff are working very hard in very difficult circumstances. Although the Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends occupancy levels of 85%, figures show that mental health wards are operating over capacity, with some running at up to 138%, and the shortage of beds has forced some mental health patients to travel hundreds of miles for treatment. Figures from the BBC show that minimum of 1,711 mental health beds were closed between April 2011 and August 2013.
A recent investigation by Health Service Journal (HSJ) revealed that there are 3,640 fewer nurses and 213 fewer doctors working in mental health in April this year compared to staffing levels two years ago. Mental health spending has been cut for the first time in a decade. The same investigation showed that the NHS’s mental health trusts have lost over £250 million of their funding in the same period.
Luciana Berger MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Public Health, said:
“This increase in self-harm and suicide attempts on NHS wards is deeply concerning.
“Mental health services have been squeezed year on year, the number of specialist doctors and nurses has dropped and there aren’t enough beds to meet demand. The pressure this is putting on mental health wards is intolerable.
“It is unacceptable that people in touch with mental health services may not be getting the support they need. These are some of the most vulnerable patients in our NHS. Ministers must now take urgent action to tackle this crisis.”