Scots forced to travel across UK for mental health services
Research by the Scottish Conservatives showed patients being sent between NHS boards north of the border, with some even being asked to travel to England
Some patients were sent to England for care between 2014/15 and 2016/17, according to the Freedom of Information request.
The research found one person from Glasgow was asked to travel 480 miles to Tavistock in Devon and to parts of London for treatment.
In total, 1,007 mental health patients suffering from conditions such as eating disorders, severe depression and learning disabilities were asked to travel “out of area”, the equivalent of 17 a week.
Highland was the health board with the largest number of transfers at 295, followed by NHS Fife at 229.
Tory mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “There will always be cases when it’s in the patient’s best interests to be sent elsewhere for treatment.
“But the scale of these figures suggests some health boards in Scotland just aren’t equipped to deal with a range of conditions.
“All sides of the political debate in Scotland agree that mental health should have a parity of esteem with physical health.
“But if that’s to be the case, people need to be able to rely on their own health board for treatment.”
Patients will always have to travel elsewhere in cases of “exceptionally rare” and challenging condition according to Ms Wells.
Ministers say they are committed to investing over £150 million in mental health services over five years, including the recruitment of 800 extra mental health workers.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The overwhelming majority of mental health treatments are provided within home health boards – the latest mental health census showed just 1.5% of inpatients were seen elsewhere. Every effort is taken to minimise out of area placements, and clinical needs and the provision of safe and effective care is always paramount.
“To ensure the necessary provision of very specialist treatments a number of services are provided on a regional and national basis to ensure they are done as safely as possible. In these instances, any patient admitted to these services will be recorded as having transferred from their home board.”