New data reveals an increase in the number of people spending time in NHS mental health hospitals for the first time in five years.
They show the rise was due to an increase of 30.1 per cent in the number of people being detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act (MHA) - from 32,649 in 2008/09 to 42,479 in 2009/10. As a percentage of patients in NHS mental health hospitals, those who were compulsorily detained under the MHA rose to nearly 39.4 per cent in 2009/2010 – up 7.6 percentage points from 2008/09.
As the number of those detained in hospital via the criminal justice system also continued to rise, the figures suggest NHS mental health hospitals are increasingly being used to care for patients who are a risk to themselves or others.
The Mental Health Bulletin 2009/10 shows:
* Over 1.25 million people were recorded as using NHS specialist mental health services in the year – the highest number since the data collection began in 2003/04 and a 4.0 per cent increase from 2008/09. Of these people 8.5 per cent spent time in hospital.
* The number of people who were admitted to hospital for care rose by 5.1 per cent - the first increase since 2004/05.
* The average number of days spent in hospital during the year per patient was 68 days for women and 78 days for men.
* The number of women detained under the MHA who came into hospital via prison or the courts was 830, an estimated rise of more than 85 per cent. The number of men in this category rose by 48 per cent from 1,982 to 2,935.
The NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: “This report is accompanied by the largest release of information ever about NHS mental health services and will be a source of huge interest to those developing services on the ground. It shows more people are being treated by NHS specialist mental health services and that more than 90 per cent of these patients receive care outside of hospital. Interestingly, the number of patients being admitted has risen for the first time in five years and the figures show the composition of patients receiving care in hospital is shifting, with a small but growing proportion coming from a prison or court setting.”