Belfast Telegraph

Patient waits three years to leave ward

By Allan Preston

A Mental health patient in Northern Ireland has waited more than three years to be discharged from hospital.

It was reported that the 76-year-old acute patient in the Southern Trust could not be released for 1,235 days, with five others in Northern Ireland kept for over a year.

The Freedom of information request by the BBC showed that in the last two years across the UK, at least 91 patients waited more than three years to be discharged.

Seven patients were also kept in a full two years longer than necessary and 320 had to wait at least 100 days.

Discharged mental health patients are often placed in supported accommodation, but a shortage of these facilities has led to the backlog.

Dr Sridevi Kalidindi, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told the BBC that disagreements between different health bodies over funding of a patient's placement was a key issue.

"Where those relationships are not quite right, where everyone feels under a lot of pressure in terms of their own finances, that's often where people can disagree," she said.

She added that a cap on benefits was also making it much harder for accommodation providers to meet the demand.

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