NHS Lothian sends mental health patients to England for treatment

The Retreat in York.
The Retreat in York.
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MENTAL Health patients in Edinburgh and Lothians are being sent more than 200 miles away for treatment.

NHS Lothian spent £1.4million in two years to send patients to The Retreat mental health clinic in York.

Experts have warned moving vulnerable people so far from home can affect their care and recovery.

BMA Scotland deputy chairwoman Dr Nikki Thompson said: “One in three GP appointments relate to mental health and wellbeing issues.

“The demands on mental health services are significant and growing but resourcing and staffing levels are insufficient to meet patients’ needs.

“The distances often involved can rule out regular visits from friends and relatives at a time in their lives when their support matters the most.”

Professor Alex McMahon, NHS Lothian director of nursing, said: “Our main priority is to ensure patients receive the best care and sometimes they need specialised care which is not available locally.

“In all cases we carry out a full assessment to ensure the right decision is being made to patients receive the most appropriate care.”

The Scottish Government said: “We recognise the additional strains that travelling long distances to access care can have on patients.

“Ever effort is taken to minimise this.”