WORCESTERSHIRE Health and Care Trust said “high demand for beds” is to blame for its failure to reach targets on sending mental health patients out of the county.

The trust’s annual report for 2018 shows 11 patients were subjected to ‘inappropriate out-of-area placements for adult mental health services’ – with the target set at zero.

A spokesman from the trust, which runs Bromsgrove's Princess of Wales Community Hospital, reassured patients and their families.

“We are looking into our pathways to see if there are steps we can take to help us hit our zero target again,” they said.

The government has been accused of failing mental health patients with the number of people being sent far from home for treatment rising.

The national press reported this week that some 710 people were being cared for “out of area”, according to latest NHS England figures for last November, with 440 of those being sent at least 62 miles away from their home and family.

While there are 45 people being treated at least 186 miles from home.

The Worcestershire trust spokesman continued: “It’s relatively rare that we have to place a mental health patient out of county, especially for capacity reasons.

“But when we are facing high demand for beds, clearly we have to prioritise getting people the care they need as soon as possible, which might involve an out of county bed.”

Regarding the 11 patients from last year, he said he understood the “vast majority were repatriated within one or two days” while “at least half” were out of the county when “assessed as requiring a mental health bed”.

“An example would be a student registered as a Worcestershire resident but is living away, becomes ill and is admitted to a bed near to where they are living at that time,” he said.

“That would still be counted as an ‘inappropriate out of area placement’ for us.”

He said, “sometimes it is necessary and appropriate” for patients to be admitted to a bed out of the county “if they require a service or level of care we aren’t commissioned to provide locally”.

The spokesman went on to stress that despite the missed targets, 11 out of area placements “is extremely low compared to the vast majority of mental health providers”.

“The reason our target is zero is that our track record here is way above the national average, as we recognise the benefits for the patient, family and carers of being cared for in a local bed.”