THE mother of a woman sent ‘to the other end of the country’ for mental health treatment has backed calls for an end to the practice.

Out of area placements are the result of a chronic lack of resources, say leading doctors, with new figures showing an increase in the number of patients being sent away from their families and friends.

Three months after her adult daughter was transferred to a unit in Barnsley, Ann Ingram, 80, says the 57-year-old has seemingly made no improvement, while she herself has been gripped by isolation and depression.

The great grandmother of five who lives in Cowley told the Oxford Mail in January how she feared she would never see her daughter again when doctors at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust took the decision to transfer her from the Warneford Hospital in Oxford to a unit 160-miles away in Yorkshire.

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Speaking yesterday Mrs Ingram said: “She’s been up there for over three months now.

“I haven’t seen her - I cry every night about it. I can’t get up to see her, although I do drive I don’t drive that far and I haven’t got anybody in the family that can take me.

“I just feel depressed about it.

The Oxford Times:

“My daughter hasn’t seen anybody from her family since she moved up, it’s disgusting, and she hasn’t made any progress.

“When she was in the Warneford I could go and visit her.”

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust which runs the hospital told the family the treatment would last for 10 weeks, however her daughter would only be allowed to return home if doctors saw an improvement in her condition.

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Though health chiefs insist out of area placements are only used as a last resort, the practice has been heavily criticised with patients isolated from a vital support network of family and friends.

The government has pledged to end the practice by 2021, however the latest figures throw that promise into doubt, according to experts.

According to the latest NHS figures there were 65 Oxfordshire patients sent anywhere between 25km and 300km away during November 2018 and January 2019 because of a lack of local beds.

The figure is an increase on the three months to the end of January 2018 when 35 patients were sent out of the county.

The total cost of these placements has risen from £351,183 to £681,803.

In England the number of out of area placements has also risen slightly with 1,995 patients sent out of their local vicinity between November 2018 and January 2019, compared to 1,980 in the same period the year before.

Oxfordshire psychiatrist and British Medical Association mental health policy lead, Dr Andrew Molodynski, warned that continued use of out of area placements was having a severe impact on patient care.

He said: “Instead of seeing progress, the government is, in fact, moving further away from realising their ambition of ending this practice by 2021, and patient care is suffering as a result.

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“In many cases, we are talking about highly vulnerable individuals whose recovery risks being further impeded by this highly disruptive practice, with the added disadvantage of friends and family not being able to visit as often as they ordinarily would.

“Of course, availability of beds is not the only solution to solving the mental health crisis, as the recent report by the Children’s Commissioner shows, there is a clear need for early intervention at a young age to reduce the number of people requiring acute care in the first place.

“As it stands, for the many patients who have unfortunately reached that crisis point, they cannot be guaranteed they will get the care they need where they live.

“This is a daunting prospect for anyone, and clearly, more investment and resources are needed to put an end to this worrying practice.”

Mrs Ingram backed the calls for an end to the practice saying: “It definitely needs to be stopped.

“What they’ve done to my daughter - they’ve sent her to the other end of the country and isolated her from everybody she knows.”

A spokesman for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our services continue to work in challenging conditions and demand for services continues to be high.

“Out of area placements are only used as a last resort.

“We are working hard within the organisation and with our partners to reduce out of area placements and expect to have improved our position by the government target date.”