Mental health trust on maximum alert as bed pressures reach ‘most serious level’

NHS Trust on equivalent of 'black alert' as pressure on bed spaces intensifies

The mental health beds crisis, highlighted in a Community Care and BBC News investigation last month, continues to put a strain on services.

Today the Brighton Argus has revealed that bosses at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have told staff that the current pressure on bed spaces is at the “most serious level” (read the full story here).

The situation means management has placed the trust on the equivalent of the “black alert” warning level used by NHS hospital trusts to indicate the highest level of emergency.

In a letter to staff, Sue Morris, the trust’s acting chief executive, said there were “extreme pressures” on beds. Morris wrote:

“There are varied reasons for these pressures and we are working with clinicians and managers to understand the causes and see how we can improve the position, both in the short and longer term.

“In acute trusts this level of pressure on beds would be described as a “black alert”, the most serious level of pressure, and would trigger special arrangements which reflect the severity of the situation, referred to as ‘business continuity plans’.”

A Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson told the Argus the trust was “taking swift action” to support frontline staff to manage the clinical pressures arising from peaks in demand.

Community Care’s investigation found that the trust had reduced its bed stock by 106 beds since April 2011.

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