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Lack of mental health beds across England.

Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust was told there were no mental health beds available across England, a senior official has has claimed.

The trust’s medical director, Dr Bohdan Solomka, said in a TV interview that the lack of beds applied across the NHS and among private providers.

In response to the claim, Norwich South MP, Clive Lewis, called for a suspension of planned bed closures in Norfolk and Suffolk until community services were able to cope with current levels of demand.

He has also asked for an urgent review into the support given to the trust from NHS England and the area's clinical commissioning groups which fund the beds.

He said:  "It's a national disgrace that there are no mental health beds for those who need them It is simply unimaginable that, in the event of a heart attack, someone would be left with no A&E bed available anywhere in the country. Why is this accepted for those with a mental, rather than physical, health crisis?"

The trust said it was dealing with the shortage by using a process called "extended overnight leave" where patients are discharged for the evening on the understanding their bed would be available if needed.

Dr Solomka said calling for more beds to be made available was just one response. He added: “On the other hand we need a more multi-tool response. It’s about freeing up community beds and housing so we're looking at the whole system.

"We want what's best for our patients. We have confidence in our staff who are making the decisions. It's about getting all stakeholders together and making sure that a lack of beds happens as infrequently as possible."

NHS England said people with mental difficulties deserve the same level of care as those with physical health needs.

A spokesman said: "Local NHS commissioners, providers and the local authority need to continue to work together to ensure all patients needing help for their mental health get the care and support they need.”