Children and young people with mental health emergencies twice as likely to spend 12 to 14 hours in A&E

Statement / comment
22 September 2022

A report on mental health emergency care by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine found that nearly one in eight mental health patients presenting to an Emergency Department in crisis face a 12-hour stay from time of arrival, compared to one in 16 of all attendants.

Children and young people experience the longest waiting times, with around half of hospitals reporting waits of up to 12 to 14 hours to see a specialist mental health professional and 48 hours for a bed.

Dr Annabel Price, Chair of the Liaison Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“It’s unacceptable that people with mental health emergencies, including many children and young people, are facing such long waits in A&E. Increased waiting times reflect how current services are struggling to meet demand, and cause real harm to patients in the same way that long waiting times for physical health emergencies do. 

“Early intervention and community care can be crucial in preventing mental health emergencies and all patients who need them should be able to access liaison psychiatry services, which will improve care for those presenting to A&E in need of help. We need urgent action to increase capacity and address workforce shortages across the whole health system if we are to tackle waiting times in A&E.”

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