BY NICOLA FIFIELD – The Mirror
Mentally ill patients are being sent for treatment in hospitals that are vast distances from their homes.
Nearly 500 are at least 30 miles away, another 1,600 are treated outside their local area and in one case a father faces a six-hour 240-mile round trip to visit his daughter.
The new figures highlight the plight of patients left isolated and scared because there are no facilities in their area.
Laura Nuttall , 25, is at Cheadle Royal hospital in Greater Manchester, a 120-mile journey from home in Sleaford, Lincs.
The NHS pays for her place in the private hospital because there are no NHS beds.
Psychology graduate Laura, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, said: “It’s very scary being sent somewhere so far away.
The fear of going into hospital is bad enough without knowing that your family won’t be able to visit you very often.
“Support from my family has always been a massive factor in getting better.”
Her civil servant dad Stuart, 60, can make the journey only once a week. He said: “I’m lucky I have a car and the money for the journey. For some it would be impossible.”
Laura, who has a YouTube channel where she blogs about her disorder, picked up an award at the Mind Media Awards on Monday.
She said: “I know the NHS is in trouble but the divide between mental illness and physical illness is still far too big.”
Figures for July this year were given by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) to Labour MP and London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan. They show 2,119 patients far from home, 200 up on September 2014.
Mr Khan said: “The system is in crisis. The Sunday Mirror’s excellent Time to Change mental health campaign will make a real difference.
“It’s crucial ministers take notice and get a grip on this.”
Vicki Nash, of charity Mind, said: “We need urgent investment in NHS mental health services.”