Mental health: Children travelling hundreds of miles for NHS treatment

Last updated at 05:04
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Children with mental health problems are having to travel hundreds of miles for NHS treatment.

Figures show that one child had to go over 330 miles from their home for help.

It's because there are too few beds in specialist hospital units for young patients, which are close to their homes. This means they must be treated in units away from family and friends.

In 2017 NHS England pledged that it would put an end to this and said 150 to 180 new beds would be created for children.

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For children, being far from home is often distressing and going to a hospital hundreds of miles away can make a frightening situation worse for the whole family. In some cases the specialist nature of treatment may mean that there is not a suitable inpatient unit in the immediate area, but too many children are still having to travel very long distances. The Government needs to continue to take action on this.

Tom Madders, Campaigns director for the charity Young Minds

Dr Jon Goldin, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Young people should not have to travel long distances - in some cases hundreds of miles - to receive the care they need for their severe mental illnesses...Care and support from family members is a crucial part of recovery, which is made significantly harder if patients are sent far from home for treatment."

The furthest distance a young person (under 18 years old) travelled was 338.8 miles in the first six months of 2018/2019, according to the data. That's the same as driving from Brighton up to near Newcastle.

The most recent figures show that in total 587 young people were admitted to child and adolescent specialised mental health inpatient units away from home in the first six months of 2018/19.

There are lots of charities that provide support to young people with mental health worries, including the NSPCC, YoungMinds and the Children's Society.

If you are upset by this news, make sure you talk about how you are feeling with friends or a trusted adult.

If you are struggling and there is no one you feel you can talk to about it, you can call Childline for free on 0800 11 11. This number does not show up on your phone bill.

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