One in ten people departing hospital after mental health care are not getting any visits or phone calls the week after leaving, according to new figures from mental health charity Mind.
The charity’s Freedom of Information requests of mental health trusts in England has revealed that every year at least 11,000 are not receiving NHS check-ups after leaving hospital or specialist facilities – putting them at greater risk of suicide.
“Thousands of people with mental health problems in England and Wales are not getting the appropriate follow-up when they are first discharged from hospital,” said Sophie Corlett, director of external relations at Mind. “This is not good enough. It is a tragedy that so many people so very recently leaving the care of hospital are losing their lives.”
Current guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) state all patients should be contacted within seven days, and recommends some people should receive immediate follow-up – within 48 hours. Mind wants the NHS to check up on all patients within 48 hours of them leaving hospital.
These figures paint an alarming picture of a system under intense and increased pressure.
Previous research by Mind discovered that those who were not followed-up were twice as likely to attempt suicide, and a third more likely to self-harm.
Recent evidence from the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide shows of all patients who died in the first week after discharge, the highest number occurred on day three.
“We know that a person who is released from hospital after a mental health crisis is most vulnerable in the days directly following discharge,” said Dr Paul Brown, Royal College of Psychiatrists.
“These figures paint an alarming picture of a system under intense and increased pressure. It is absolutely vital that we see money promised by the Government going to the frontline.”