Birmingham’s mental health services “desperately in need of funding and updating”

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Birmingham’s mental health hospitals are underfunded and understaffed despite increasing pressure on them, claims an NHS Healthcare Assistant.

An NHS Women’s Mental Healthcare Assistant in Birmingham outlined just how in danger the mental health services are. She has opted to stay anonymous to negate any risk of her being fired for speaking out.

Photo by gorden murah surabaya from Pexels

She said: “we are underfunded both within hospitals and even more in the community.

“There’s a lack of suitable accommodation properties to discharge patients from wards.

“Patients are not supported well enough on discharge thus, ‘the revolving door’ effect occurs where patients who leave, quickly end up back on the ward.”’

‘Revolving door patients’ are repeat visitors, who in recent studies, have been found to take up an extensive amount of NHS resources. Less than 1% of the most frequent repeat visitors to A&E make up a huge 16% of all yearly A&E admissions; they also take up to 29% of the ambulances.

Our source suggested that more community support services could help reduce these numbers, but a lack of funding means there is none.

As a healthcare assistant she works 37.5 hours a week plus at least 2 extra shifts to make up for understaffing,

She added: “We have four staff for the AM shift, four for the PM shift and five at night to care for 16 inpatients.

“However because of deaths on the ward the CQC (Care Quality Commission) recommended that we have at least six staff on for mornings, six for afternoons and five at night.

“Apart from the lack of beds available for patients, staff retention is also a real problem.

“We lose one colleague every month from the ward because the pressure is so high.

“This decreases the quality of patient care.

“Even the systems the mental healthcare services run on are archaic.

“It’s a disgrace – the IT systems are like something from the Nineties.

The problems of outdated technological systems across the NHS were highlighted in January 2020 with then Health Secretary Matt Hancock addressing the problems publicly.

Hancock said: “It is frankly ridiculous how much time our doctors and nurses waste logging on to multiple systems.”

Despite its difficulties our source still maintained she loved her job.

“I absolutely adore our patients,” she said.

“It’s great to see improvements in patients.

“Some take longer than others but to be there when they blossom is what makes it worth all the long hours.”

Alongside mental health hospitals in the city, every major hospital in Birmingham has now been told it “needs improvement” by the CQC. This includes QE, Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull.

 

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