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More people being admitted to intensive care over mental health

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 2:10pm

By Eddie Bisknell, Local Democracy Reporter @EddieBisk

Derbyshire health chiefs say more people are being admitted to intensive care units for mental health conditions linked to the Covid-19 lockdown.

They also say that there are fewer staff than usual available to tackle the heightened need for mental health support – due to employees needing to shield themselves or loved ones.

During the peak of the pandemic hundreds of patients were being admitted to hospitals after falling ill due to Covid-19.

However, the impact for many was not just physical but mental.

Derbyshire Healthcare Trust, which specialises in mental health support, detailed in papers seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it is seeing more patients with psychosis.

Psychosis, the NHS explains, is a mental health condition in which “people lose some contact with reality. This might involve seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear (hallucinations) and believing things that are not actually true (delusions)”.

The trust says this surge in psychosis cases is due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.

It details that this would include the effects of “less freedom to see family and friends, changes to ‘normal’ life, financial and employment concerns”.

The trust also says 40 of its staff are shielding from Covid, staying at home to avoid the risk of bringing home the virus to a vulnerable loved one or protecting themselves because they have underlying health issues.

It says there has been a “reduction in the level of crisis services being delivered within the community, so this means that there is less support for individuals when their condition worsens”.

These issues, it says, have led to an increase in patients being admitted to psychiatric intensive care units (PICU).

In May and June it had expected 12 patients but this rose to 21 patients admitted.

The trust says “this is not an isolated situation, the increase in PICU is being seen across the region”.

A spokesperson for the Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “At the trust we are continuing to invest in community mental health teams to expand our support services within the Derby and Derbyshire community.

“This includes our Mental Health Support Line, which was launched in April to a very positive response and last month moved to a free number on 0800 028 0077, with a service that is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“A rise in issues around mental ill-health is being seen in trusts across the region, and nationally, trusts are continuing to assess and expand services with new national investment, all of which is in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.”

If you have suffered mental health issues which have developed or worsened due to lockdown and would like to talk about them for an article, please email eddie.bisknell@reachplc.com


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