A mental health trust has been forced to use private beds for adults because it does not have enough of its own available.
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust currently has around 20 patients being cared for by alternative organisations this week as it deals with a rise in demand for its services.
In a message to staff, chief executive Lisa Rodrigues described the pressures on the service as “severe”.
The trust has stepped up its level of alert to “business continuity” as staff and managers work with commissioners to deal with the situation.
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Part of the problem has been caused by the length of time patients are having to stay in hospital despite being ready to be discharged because they have no suitable home to go to.
Mrs Rodrigues said: “This week, the pressures on our acute adult mental health services have become so severe that we have moved into business continuity, a formal NHS term that means we are extremely concerned about the possible impact on patients and staff in our hospitals and community teams.
“We are grateful for the support of all our partners, commissioners and most of all our staff as we carry out a swift, deep analysis into the reasons, and put in place a recovery plan that tackles those reasons. Some are obvious, such as 24 people in our acute beds ready to go home but with no suitable home to go to, but others are less so and require more analysis.
“We will look at the first version of our recovery plan at the beginning of next week.”
Nationally there has been a drive to gradually reduce inpatient beds for adults with mental health problems and focus on providing care and support at an earlier stage.
Pressures on beds can fluctuate and there are no specific reasons for the recent increase in demand.
However experts are considering whether issues such as the recession are having an impact.
For example an already vulnerable person could find themselves tipped over the edge because of fears over their job, their housing situation or other financial worries.