Increasing mental health inpatient care in response to COVID-19

The NHS has been in an unprecedented position over the last few months responding to the national coronavirus pandemic. This has had significant and long lasting impact on how the NHS and the Trust develop and deliver services now and in the future.
LPFT Discovery House exterior

UPDATE FROM Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT)

During our response to the pandemic we have needed to reduce face to face contact and provide space for effective social distancing; something that has been a particular challenge for our adult inpatient acute wards, some of which still have dormitory accommodation.

Facilitating social distancing is likely to be a key feature for how the NHS and other services arrange their estate over the coming months and possibly years, and many of the different ways of working we have adopted are likely to need to continue.

The Lincolnshire system also remains  committed to eliminating the inappropriate use of out of area hospital placements for acute patients by the end of March 2021, by improving access to local mental health and learning disability services for the people of Lincolnshire.

We have had ambitious estate plans for some time and have wanted to improve our patient accommodation and increase the types of services we offer, to support us in reducing the need for patients to go out of the county for their care.

The coronavirus response has magnified this challenge and as part of our recovery planning we are reflecting on our existing plans. We know that some of our ambitious plans are still some time off, so we need to find a different solution to meet current challenges.

Conversations with our commissioners on how we deliver our services are on-going and will ultimately decide what we are able to deliver longer term. In the current circumstances however our Board of Directors has agreed the need to increase mental health inpatient capacity using existing estate, to provide more flexibility in the county and prevent patients travelling further afield for acute hospital care.

There is likely to be increasing demand on mental health services following the coronavirus pandemic, so we are progressing this work as a priority and at pace. We are looking to utilise existing estate at Ash Villa near Sleaford as an interim location for additional female acute treatment services and have begun to scope the required estate work and staffing requirements. We are increasing our inpatient capacity for females as we know over the last two years we have had more females admitted to acute inpatient services than males and the additional service will allow us more flexibility to reduce all patients travelling out of the county.

We continue to work closely with our commissioners on these plans and are looking to have this in place before the end of the year to support our on-going response.

We expect that recruitment of qualified staff will be particularly challenging and have therefore commenced our recruitment campaign for clinically registered professionals to ensure we are able to staff the unit safely and effectively.

We are also continuing to scope out additional solutions to improve our inpatient pathway including:

  • A reablement service which will support people who have had an acute mental health admission to reintegrate into their community.
  • Working with the housing sector to support patient transition from hospital to the community with support of appropriate services.
  • A solution both shorter and longer term for female high dependency/psychiatric intensive care unit.

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