Southern Trust patient stranded for three years in mental health unit

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A local mental health patient has spent over three years awaiting discharge from an acute unit.

The 76-year-old was in the care of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Over the past two years, 16 patients waited more than 100 days for discharge, according to a Freedom of Information request.

Five patients were delayed for more than a year, and the Southern Trust patient waited 1,235 days stranded in an acute unit.

A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: “Trust policy ensures community-based care and treatment is put in-place as soon as possible for patients who can be safely discharged from acute mental health in-patient wards.

Patients could only be safely discharged when specialist community-based accommodation were available which meets their needs, the Trust said.

“Following the modernisation of our mental health services in recent years we do not provide statutory long term care mental health beds.”

The Department of Health said: “Adult mental health hospitals in NI currently have a target of discharging patients within 7 days of their being declared as medically fit”.

It said that as of 31 March this target was in breach for 11 patients. “HSC Trusts continue to develop community-based care and treatments to facilitate timely and safe discharge of patients from acute mental health wards.”