This is why Lancashire is struggling to cope with so many people being sectioned under the Mental Health Act

A surge in people being sectioned in Lancashire is putting “considerable strain” on police and the health service, a report has found.

By Michael Holmes
Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st May 2019, 1:23 pm
Lancashire Care
Lancashire Care

The section 136 detentions, when officials believe a patient needs urgent mental health help, “often result from a number of care system failures where an individual’s condition becomes a crisis due to a lack of early intervention and prevention”, an external review concluded.

It comes ahead of another review by NHS experts from the north east, which is due to be released publicly tomorrow.

The report said an average of 106 people per month were detained from January to September last year. Some 41 per cent were admitted.

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The report said: “Whilst the conversion rate raises a wider question on training and the application of S136, the actual detention rate should not be placing the wider system under the pressure it is currently experiencing.”

Interviews with medics and police officers suggested the “pressure is caused by a lack of patient flow”, with factors said to include:

• A shortage of available beds, with an occupancy rate ranging from 103.9 per cent to 118.1 per cent and patients staying for an average of almost 44 days;

• Crisis teams only providing telephone support overnight, “potentially causing increased requests for police support”;

• The length of time police officers spend in hospital emergency departments with a sectioned patient – an estimated average of 14 hours; and

• “Significant strain” being placed on A&E liaison teams, who cover multiple hospitals and are meant to give a 24 hour service but are not even given the resources to cover 9am to 5pm shifts.

“Our review of … data highlighted that the trust experiences significant issues with occupancy, use of out-of-area placements, long average length of stays, limited access to intensive rehabilitation, learning disability and intensive specialist detoxification beds,” the report added.

Lancashire Care, which is responsible for mental health care in the county and was told it ‘requires improvement’ by inspectors last year, has put an action plan in place.

Russell Paton, director of operations, said: “The trust has, along with local partners, received the report from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust.

"We all welcome the report and its recommendations.

“We are in the process of informing contributors and stakeholders to tell them what it entails and the actions taken as a result.

"There is a plan in place and we will be publishing the full report and our response [this] week.”