Over the last two years it is estimated that ambulance call-outs for mental health patients in England has soared by almost a quarter compared with figures from 2014-2015.
- 2014-2015: 140,137 ambulance call outs
- 2016-2017: 172,799 ambulance call outs
The data was gathered using the Freedom of Information Act.
As well as the surge in ambulance call-outs the number of hours spent helping those with mental health issues has also increased.
55,000 more hours were spent during the 2016-2017 period compared with figures from 2014-2015. In London the rise was as high as 45% with the national average being 32%.
Former Labour Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Luciana Berger, has said that the figures are shocking, but not necessarily surprising, accusing the Conservative government of “dismantling” early intervention for mental health issues. According to Ms Berger, the lack of early intervention is resulting in more people ending up in a crisis situation.
Ms Berger went on to say: “Jeremy Hunt has no other option but to introduce ring-fenced budgets for mental health to ensure funding reaches the frontline. The health secretary must take urgent action for the sake of patients and staff.”
Natasha Devon, the writer and campaigner has weighed in with her views: “I hear stories of people actively seeking arrest by acting in dangerous ways because that’s the only way they can get the attention they need. I have also heard of vulnerable teenagers knowing exactly how much they have to self-harm in order to ‘ensure’ a hospital stay. Accident and emergency, ambulance and police services weren’t designed for this … meanwhile the government talks vaguely about ‘stigma’ and training teachers’.”
The government has recently announced a further £1.3bn for mental health positions in the NHS. However Ms Berger described this as: “a red herring – officially we’ve lost 6,600 mental health nurses and doctors since 2010. But many other posts remain unfilled too.”