By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter
South-east London hospitals are being overrun by teenagers suffering psychotic episodes after taking the drug spice, according to an NHS nurse.
So few beds are available that young people are being sent to hospitals more than four hours away for treatment in places such as Weston-super-Mare in North Somerset, a mental health nurse has revealed.
Ms Webley-Brown, who is also a Lewisham councillor, said, at a council meeting on June 29. increased spice use among teenagers is contributing to a shortage of NHS beds.
Describing the situation as heartbreaking, Ms Webley-Brown told Lewisham’s Children and Young People Select Committee: “Accident and emergency departments are filling up with our young people who’ve taken spice and they’ve ended up having a psychotic episode which is very frightening for themselves as well as their parents.
“There are very few young people’s beds. They’re often ferried out of area. The last bed that was had on Friday was in Weston-super-Mare. And things like that break my heart. We don’t have enough beds for adults let alone children when they really need it.”
She said vulnerable kids were being brought into hospitals in handcuffs by the police under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.
Councillor Webley-Brown predicted the summer holidays would be a nightmare for mental health services due to a lack of activities for young people.
She said: “Our children are being shackled, handcuffed at a time when they’re very very frightened and very very vulnerable. It’s going to be a nightmare six weeks holiday time because we haven’t got enough things to involve our children with and I’m very anxious.”
Cllr Webley-Brown said Covid had caused a crisis in children’s mental health in the borough and said the council didn’t have the resources to deal with the fallout.
Social workers were handing out McDonald’s vouchers to parents of children suffering from mental health issues to help them re-engage with their kids, she revealed.
She said: “With Covid, the mental health of our children, our young people, is at a crisis point. We haven’t got what they need and it is worrying me. I think the social workers are very stuck with what to do because they might be concerned but there’s very little they can do.
“I know they’ve been giving vouchers to parents to take their child to, well the cheapest place they can take them is McDonald’s, just so that they can try and engage again with their children.”
Pictured top: Lewisham Town Hall Picture: Google Street View