Waiting times for mental health beds more than doubled in the last year as NHS services struggle to keep up with demand.

The wait for a formal inpatient bed for patients who had been sectioned shot up to over a week in September last year, compared to three days in 2022.

The figures come as the number of patients waiting for beds more than doubled in the same time period while the number of unoccupied beds plummeted.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPFT), who run mental health services in the country, say they are introducing new measures in an effort to improve the flow of patients.

Statistics released under a Freedom of Information Request show that mental health patients who had been sectioned under the Mental Health act waited 7.4 days for a bed on average in September 2023.

In September 2022 the wait time was just 3.4 days.

The wait time for "informal" patients [patients who have agreed to treatment] also shot up from five days to eight and a half.

The figures released by SPFT paint a picture of the stress that mental health services in Sussex are under. More than double the number of patients are now waiting for beds compared to last year and less beds are available.


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A spokeswoman for Sussex Partnership said: "We are responding to a significant increase in need from people with complex mental health, learning disability and neurodiversity needs and are working with our health and care partners to reduce the levels of need for inpatient services.

"This includes developing enhanced community-based support for people experiencing a mental health crisis and providing additional housing and social care support to enable people who are-medically ready for discharge to leave hospital."

Other figures released show that 72 patients were waiting for an inpatient psychiatric bed in Sussex in September 2023 compared to 38 patients the year before.

The increase in people waiting for beds comes at the same time as the number of spare beds also decreased. 

In August 2023 just one inpatient psychiatric bed was unoccupied on average each day.

In response to the pressure Sussex Partnership said they are working to try and increase the flow of patients in an attempt to free up beds faster.

Up to 25 per cent of inpatient beds at any one time are filled with patients who are medically fit to be discharged but are unable to leave due to issues with housing or other circumstances.

A mental health support line in Sussex was also added in November 2022 via the NHS's 111 service.