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North Wales children being sent away for mental health care.

UP TO 100 children from north Wales had to be sent out of the region for mental health treatment between 2014-18.

Figures released by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board show that during that time 46 children under the age of 17 were sent out of north Wales for general mental health treatment and another 36 had to go for specialist treatment.

Campaigners have said the numbers show there is a shortage of facilities in north Wales.

Glenn Page, senior policy and campaigns officer at Mind Cymru, said: "When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, staying in hospital may be the best way to keep them safe and make sure they get the help and support they need.

"However, there is significant shortage of inpatient mental health beds across Wales for both children and adults.

"A lack of available beds means that people cannot always get the treatment that is best for them or can face having to travel hundreds of miles from home, their families and support networks, to get the help they need. This can be especially difficult for children and young people. "A mental health crisis is an emergency just like a physical health emergency, and no-one should be expected to put up with a secondrate service for either."

For patients seeking general care, the numbers peaked at 15 in 2016 but dropped down to six for 2018.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee, which commissions specialist care, said: "In 2018-19 there were six children who were transferred out of area due to capacity issues in the north Wales service related to workforce recruitment challenges.

"There are other children who have requirements for very specialist input or secure accommodation who were also transferred out of Wales. This is because we want these children to be looked after in the most appropriate location which can meet their needs. The specialist nature of these needs means that services are delivered from only few centres across the UK."

During this time children were sent as far away as Southampton, Norwich and Maidenhead for some of the treatment. The main reason given for children having to be sent out of north Wales for general treatment was a lack of bed capacity. A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesman said: "Because of high demand, there are occasions when young people experiencing mental health problems are admitted to inpatient units outside of north Wales. This situation has improved significantly in recent years, with only six young people placed out of area in 2018 and none to date in 2019. We have also reduced the length of time young people spend receiving out of area care."

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 26, 2019
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