Thousands of vulnerable people are being left at increased risk of suicide because NHS mental health teams in England and Wales are not checking up on them within a week of their discharge from hospital.
At least 11,000 people a year who have recently been in mental health inpatient care are not followed up within a week of coming home, despite guidelines requiring the NHS to contact them.
People discharged after hospital treatment for a mental health crisis should receive a visit or phone call to assess their needs, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says. But figures obtained under freedom of information laws by the charity Mind show that one in 10 such people are not contacted.
“Patients should only be discharged from specialist mental health services when there are ongoing care arrangements in place for them. Failure to do so can put the person at risk of harm, their condition can relapse and it can mean they are more likely to go going back into hospital,” said Dr Paul Lelliott, the Care Quality Commission’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals.
Mind discovered that the Nice guidelines were often breached after receiving information from 54 of England’s NHS 56 mental health trust and one of Wales’s seven health boards.