22/05/2017

Concerns Raised Over Adult Mental Health Patients

The number of adult mental health patients waiting longer than nine weeks to access key services has more than doubled from 338 in March 2016 to over 800 in March 2017, according to new figures.

Ulster Unionist Mental Health spokesperson, Robbie Butler MLA, warned that mental health patients could be coming to harm.

He said: "The problem of poor mental health is much more acute here than any other region in the UK, with 1 in 5 adults and further 45,000 children and young people here having a mental health problem at any one time.

"Mental illness is the single largest cause of ill health and disability in Northern Ireland. Mental health is just as important to a person's overall wellbeing as their physical health.
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"I was shocked to learn that, according to figures recently produced by the Health and Social Care Board, the number of patients waiting longer than 9 weeks to access crucial adult mental health services jumped 138% in the space of a year. It is simply unacceptable that so many mental health patients are having to wait far longer than they should for safe, high quality and timely care.

"It is widely accepted that the earlier intervention occurs, the more swiftly the person can start to recover a sense of balance and wellbeing. The revelation that so many people are being forced to wait for so long for key mental health services in Northern Ireland is frightening, not least because issues as serious as suicide remain a major problem here. 318 deaths were recorded in 2015, the highest since records began in 1970.

"A local Health Minister would be best placed to improve the experience of people who require these essential adult services."

(CD)

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