Derry has just 7.7% of the North’s mental health beds

Front entrance to Grangewood, the mental health crisis unit in Derry.
Front entrance to Grangewood, the mental health crisis unit in Derry.

Just 7.7 per cent of the 619 adult mental health beds available in the North at the end of the last financial year were located in Derry, according to the latest figures from the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB).

At the end of March 2018 there were only 48 beds in mental health wards in the North’s second city.

The HSCB, which is responsible for commissioning health services here, has further revealed that of 117 adult learning disability beds, only 11 were located in Derry.

That’s just 9.4 per cent of the total number of bed spaces throughout the North.

The HSCB provided the breakdown in response to a Freedom of Information request advising that at the end of March there were 619 adult mental health beds and 117 adult learning disability beds under its jurisdiction.

It revealed that Belfast boasted 28 per cent of the North’s total provision and with 171 mental health beds had more than three times as many as Derry.

“At March 31 there were 171 mental health beds and zero learning disability beds in Belfast,” the HSCB revealed.

“There were 48 mental health beds, and 11 Learning disability beds in Derry/Londonderry,” it added.

The board confirmed that all of the designated mental health beds referred to were located in mental health wards.

Likewise, all of the learning disability beds were provided in learning disability wards.

However, the data further indicated that occupation levels fluctuated day to day.

For example, “at March 31 there were 67 mental health beds and six learning disability beds not occupied,” the HSCB said.

This equated to 11 per cent of all mental health beds and five per cent of all learning disability beds being unoccupied at that particular moment in time in health service provision in the North.

“This fluctuates on a daily basis,” the HSCB cautioned.

The board also confirmed that mental health wards were not segregated by sex or gender though there was special provision for children.

“Beds are not designated male or female. There are 31 mental health beds designated for people under 18 years, and eight learning disability beds for people under 18 years,” the board stated.

Several reviews of the health service in the North, including Professor David Bamford’s 2007 review of mental health and learning disability, Professor John Appleby’s 2011 review of health and social care funding needs and productivity, and Professor Rafael Bengoa’s 2016 report, have all suggested mental health expenditure in the North lags behind equivalent expenditure in Britain.

Dr. Bengoa stated: “Appleby’s review also found significant disparities in some programmes of care. For example, according to his figures, mental health needs in Northern Ireland were estimated to be nearly 44 per cent higher than in England, while actual per capita spending on these services was in fact 10-30 per cent lower.”