Papers discussed by Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust’s board show that whilst demand for services dropped during the pandemic, community mental health services then saw a 26pc increase on pre-Covid levels in March – ‘suppressed demand that is now coming through’.
Trafford clinical commissioning group noted a similar pattern. “Referrals to specialist child and adolescent mental health services have increased, with more children presenting in crisis and with increased complexities,” its papers noted, adding that the lockdown measures have also hit access to psychological therapy and dementia diagnosis rates.
The signs were already appearing a month ago, when Manchester Health and Care Commissioning – the joint NHS and council body that buys health and social care services in the city – raised concerns about long mental health inpatient stays at its last meeting. Too many people were being sent to mental health beds out of the area alongside ‘increases in referrals to eating disorder and child and adolescent mental health services’.
Meanwhile most people with learning disabilities had not been having their annual check-ups and most vulnerable children had not had their assessments carried out in the month after being taken into care, a further health and social crisis looming in the background as a result of lockdown.
At the same time the system was already, at that point, seeing a rise in walk-ins to A&E. Sarah Price, a spokesperson admits the system had hoped, last month, that the surge in these overall pressures would be short-lived. But there now is an expectation it will carry through towards the winter. “I think a month ago when we were thinking is this a blip, or is this something to be sustained – and we do think it’s going to be sustained for a while yet,” she says.
Source: Manchester Evening News, 27th June 2021