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Private firms run most OOA beds

iStock generic of a mentally disturbed teenager

Most patients with severe mental health problems are rehabilitated in out-of-area beds run by private firms.

This is one of the chief findings in the latest briefing on mental health care by the CQC (Care Quality Commission).

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of placements in residential rehabilitation wards were OOA (out of area), it states – a ‘deeply worrying’ finding, according to Royal College of Psychiatrists rehabilitation faculty chair Rajesh Mohan.

The majority of OOA (78 per cent) beds were in private units. Such stays were on average longer at 14 months compared with seven and a half months in the NHS.

They were also more costly (£162,000 compared to £81,000 in the NHS).

In total, the NHS spends £535m on residential mental health rehabilitation annually. OOA placements account for around two thirds of this expenditure.

The CQC findings mirror BMA News research, showing rising numbers and costs of OOA beds in mental healthcare.

Read more the BMA News investigation into OOA beds

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