How many children die whilst in psychiatric care?
You probably don’t know. If you were health secretary, you might say something to the effect, none that I know of, or you might guess the answer to be four this year, one of them Sarah Green. You might suggest that the knock on effects of broken Britain (my words) is the number of children seeking psychiatric care placement has, according to Deborah Coles, who under Freedom of Information made a request to the appropriate authorities (a mismatch of NHS Trusts and local authorities) and suggest that that number has doubled since the nineteen eighties and quadrupled between 2010-2014.
In quantitative terms 0.7% of the NHS budget is spent on psychiatric care (mental health) of young people and gaps in services mean that young people can be shipped hundreds of miles from home, as Sarah Green was. Her final placement was in The Priory which receives eighty-five percent of its funding from NHS clients. Sarah’s family complained that at a case meeting about her care the NHS trust, and CAM’s team openly squabbled about who was to pay for her care. None of this surprised me. Nor did Sarah’s death. What shocked me, I’m sad to say, was the cost. The NHS Trust were paying £800 per day for Sarah’s care. The Priory as a private consortium does not have to disclose what happens to whom in its institutions. There’s big bucks in patient care. Economic rent. Sarah could have hired two or three full-time staff and stayed at home. Let’s put this into perspective. Justin King who has taken over the running of Four Season’s Care Homes (debts £50 million) complained that local authorities were paying as little as £400 per week for care of the elderly. He argued the break-even figure was nearer £500. My argument is quite simply we should be doing these things ourselves. Self-help. Not paying for both care and adding on profit as a justifiable cost. For me that’s unjustifiable.
Rachel’s story is the story of some many other kids. Frozen out and shipped to some far-flung institution that in the jargon has the appropriate resources. Tara Philips, for example, featured and her petition [below] from Change Org., appeared in my inbox. Her story is Sarah’s story, but without the suicide. They deserve better. We deserve better.
I am a mum of 6 kids. My oldest, Rachael, just turned 15. Growing up she has always been a loving, thoughtful, young lady with an incredible sense of humour. But when she was 13 she developed severe depression and was soon sectioned. At a time when she needed her family the most, she was moved to a specialist unit on the other side of the country. It costs £100 every time I travel to visit her. I can only afford to visit once every two weeks.
It has become unbearable to have my daughter so far away when I know she is suffering, that’s why I have started this petition to get her care closer to home.
Petitions have helped other families in similar situations. When Phill Wills started his #BringJoshHome campaign to get care for his son, his local authorities started to listen. Public pressure can do the same for us.
Young people’s mental health care has been overlooked in this country for far too long and thousands of families like mine are being neglected. In Lancashire, particularly, I know people aren’t getting the treatment they deserve. High quality local care for Rachael could be the first step to creating better care for all young people in the area