Hundreds of English mental health patients forced to travel hundreds of miles to Scotland for treatment, due to bed shortages


In only one English county, Oxfordshire, nearly 500 patients have had to travel to Scotland for treatment over the last three years. Some have had to make the 532 miles journey to Inverness!

I’ve already contrasted the humanitarian disaster afflicting parts of NHS England with the relatively well-managed NHS Scotland. You can search my site for ‘NHS’ to find all 20 or 30 articles or probably just look at this admittedly slightly dated list I made last October:

  1. Scotland has the best and still improving A&E performance in the World. (Royal College of Emergency Medicine and 1, 2)
  2. Scotland has the most GPs per head of population in the UK and has had so every year since at least 2004. (Nuffield Trust 3)
  3. Scotland’s GPs feel the most-satisfied, the least over-worked and the least-stressed in the UK and perhaps in the World. (Commonwealth Foundation of New York 4)
  4. Scotland’s GPs are significantly more satisfied with the coordination across multiple sites and providers than in England. (Commonwealth Foundation of New York 4)
  5. 94% of Scottish cancer patients rated care as ‘highly positive’ but only 61% of English cancer patients did so. ( and NCPES 5, 6)
  6. Over 100 000 treatment delays caused by junior doctor strikes in England but none in Scotland (BBC 7)
  7. Bed-blocking in Scottish hospitals remains on a downward trend, with 7% fewer delayed discharges than last year. This is in stark comparison to other parts of the UK where the number of people delayed waiting to leave hospital is on the ris (Herald, Scotsman and Jersey Evening Post! BBC 8, 9)
  8. Scotland spends more per capita on health (Nuffield Trust, 10)
  9. Scotland, by contrast [with England], has abolished all vestiges of the ‘internal market’. (The King’s Fund 11)
  10. There is relatively little cross-border flow of patients from Scotland to England. (The King’s Fund 11)
  11. Scotland specifically embraces a philosophy of ‘mutuality’ between the Scottish people and the NHS. Internally it has a highly developed approach to partnership working between the trade unions and management. The partnership’s remit stretches well beyond terms and conditions to broader issues such as quality and the design of services. (The King’s Fund 11)
  12. Scotland has a long and honourable tradition of clinical audit that over the years, both before and after devolution, has helped inform the approach of the other countries. (The King’s Fund 11)
  13. Scotland appears to have made more progress [in developing integrated care], perhaps in part due to its relative organisational stability over the past decade (The King’s Fund 11)
  14. Scotland’s greater and earlier success in getting an electronic and shared summary care record in place, despite England investing vastly greater sums in its National Programme for IT (The King’s Fund 11)
  15. Public satisfaction with the Scottish NHS reaches as high as 74% in Scotland but only as high as 63% in England (King’s Fund, 12)

See this quote from Mental Health lead for the BMA Dr Andrew Molodynski, who works in Didcot:

‘There have been progressive cuts to mental health beds nationally (sic) over recent years. Across the South East we are seeing people turn up in the middle of the night in crisis but there is sometimes no bed for them. Rather than send them home, it is safer to find them a bed elsewhere.  It is never a good thing as it makes it more difficult for families and friends to visit and it creates a distance between the person and their community teams.’

‘More difficult to visit?’ Now there’s an understatement.

Once more we see how different Scotland and England are. It’s surely time to formalise the differences.


2 thoughts on “Hundreds of English mental health patients forced to travel hundreds of miles to Scotland for treatment, due to bed shortages

  1. Contrary July 1, 2017 / 8:28 pm

    Indeed, time to formalise the differences.

    Have you seen this apparently new Scottish publication?

    No idea what it will be like, I trudged through the Greenland article (mostly) and it seemed okay. anyway, thought it might be another potential source.


  2. johnrobertson834 July 1, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    Thanks for sharing the link. Read the Mosul piece. Used to work beside David Pratt’s brother.


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