Responding to Labour's investigation into waits for mental health patients at A&E, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the mental health network at the NHS Confederation, said:
“These figures are deeply concerning and shows that mental health services are struggling to cope with not only an increase in demand but an increase in the acuity of patients.
“Health leaders know that busy, noisy A&Es are usually unsuitable environments for people experiencing a mental health crisis, and that these patients experience disproportionately long waits for admission to a suitable bed or alternative service.
“NHS leaders work hard to innovate, doing the best they can with the resources they have, and while A&E waiting times are generally improving, they know that they can only do so much without underlying capacity issues being addressed, especially in mental health services.
“There are too few mental health beds in hospitals, often resulting in higher bed occupancy rates which in turn cause long waits, but the main problem is the shortage of appropriate community mental health services, and shortage of capacity in the services we do have, to which patients can be discharged or attend in the first place instead of A&E.
“We must see meaningful action from government to help, including investment in staffed beds across the system, and more importantly, investment in social care, and community mental health teams which needs to include utilising the third sector.”