34.7% mental health admissions in Western trust as 224 await addiction services

The staggering demand for mental health services has been laid bare in new data thatshow 224 people were waiting for addiction services locally at the end of May.

Over a third of all mental health admissions in the north last year occurred in the Western Trust, it has also emerged.

Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed that there were 224 active waits for addiction services in the Western Trust in May.

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One patient was waiting for more than nine weeks, 15 patients were waiting for between six and nine weeks, 77 were waiting for between three and six weeks, and the majority, 131, were waiting for less than three weeks.

New data have laid bare the demand for mental health services locally.

A new report on hospital activity published at the end of last week, has further revealed that in 2021/22, 34.7 per cent (1,596) of a total of 4,593 admissions under the mental health programme of care in the north were in the Western Trust area.

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5,218 mental health referrals from A&E
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Foyle SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin said the figures highlight the need for improved mental health services in the area.

“These new figures lay in stark relief the challenges facing the Western Trust when it comes to mental health and the fact that more than a third of total hospital admissions under the mental health programme of care were in the Western Trust should serve as a wake-up call to everyone that we need to improve our services in this area.

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“Too many people have been falling through the cracks of our system for too long and the challenges with regards to mental health that already existed in Derry and elsewhere have only been exacerbated over the last number of years,” she stated.

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Mrs. McLaughlin said it is time for concrete action.

“We can all talk a good game when it comes to mental health and, of course, we need greater awareness of mental health challenges, but the truth is that we need to see long-term, sustainable funding in our services if we are going to tackle this issue.”

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Mrs. McLaughlin said resources need to be put in place to address the extremely high demand for mental health services in Derry.

“That means supporting those people and groups on the ground who are doing fantastic work in the community and also ensuring that the Ten-Year Mental Health Strategy is fully resourced and implemented. We must also ensure that no-one across the North loses out on equitable access to support so that people are subjected to a postcode lottery of services,” she said.

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The new hospital activity report shows the number of mental health admission in the Western Trust far exceeds that of other local health authorities.

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The figures are stark. The Western Trust accounted for 34.7 per cent (1,596) of a total of 4,593 admissions, followed by 17.7 per cent (813) in both the Northern Trust and the Southern Trust, 16.5 per cent (758) in the South Eastern Trust and 13.3 per cent (611) in the Belfast Trust.

The revelations follow a report in the ‘Journal’ last month that revealed there were 23,256 unscheduled adult mental health referrals in the Western Trust over the past five years, with 5,218 in total from local A&E departments.

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Over 60,000 mental health referrals - involving both adult and child patients - were made in the Western Trust over the five years.

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During the same period, there were 9,585 child and adolescent mental health scheduled care referrals across the Western Trust. Figures for unscheduled child and adolescent mental health referrals from A&E departments in the Western Trust were only available for the years 2017/18 and 2018/19.

There were 146 referrals of children and adolescents over those two years.

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