No mental health beds available in England, trust chief was told


There were no beds for mental health patients available anywhere in England for a period of time this weekend when an NHS trust enquired, its medical director has said.

The situation experienced by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been described as "a national disgrace" by a local MP.

Dr Bohdan Solomka told the BBC that up to Sunday night "there were no adult acute inpatient beds in England available to us either from NHS or private providers".

Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said such a shortage would not be accepted for patients in physical emergencies, and should not be for those with mental health issues.

"It's a national disgrace that there are no mental health beds for those who need them," Mr Lewis he told the BBC.

"It is simply unimaginable that in the event of a heart attack someone would be left with no A&E bed available anywhere in the country. Why is this accepted for those with a mental rather than physical health crisis?"

Mr Lewis called for plans for bed closures in the area to be suspended until community services can cope with demand.

But Dr Solomka said a "multi-tool response" is needed, where community beds and housing are made available.

An NHS England spokesman told the BBC: "Local NHS commissioners, providers and the local authority need to continue to work together to ensure all patients needing help for their mental health get the care and support they need."