Out-of-area (OOA) placements occur when patients cannot be admitted to local facilities, which can be extremely stressful for patients and families. Thus, the Department of Health aims to eliminate the need for OOA admissions. Using data from a UK mental health trust we developed a ‘virtual mental health ward’ to evaluate the potential impact of referral rates and length of stay (LOS) on OOA rates. The results indicated OOA rates were equally sensitive to LOS and referral rate. This suggests that investment in community services that reduce both LOS and referral rates are required to meaningfully reduce OOA admission rates.
Declaration of interest
P.A.T. holds an honorary consultant contract with the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.