bedroomThe number of mental health beds in Greater Manchester has fallen by nearly a quarter in the last five years despite an increase in admissions.

NHS figures show the number of people admitted by the region’s three mental health trusts has increased by 23% from 8,327 to 10,246 over five years. The region has also seen a 5.9% cut in mental health beds from 1,491 to 1,403 during the same period.

Earlier this month, a health regulator said England’s mental health crisis-care system was ‘unsafe’, with a lack of available beds a key concern.

Mental health charities have called for ‘proper’ resourcing of services to cope with growing numbers of people in need of help.

Geoff Heyes, policy and campaigns manager for the mental health charity Mind, said: “A mental health emergency is just as serious as a physical health emergency and needs to be treated with the same level of urgency which includes proper resources.

"We know the NHS is struggling at the moment but there simply isn’t room for any belt-tightening in the case of mental health services. The toxic combination of historical under-funding, compounded by cuts over consecutive years, have left mental health services reeling.

“What has made this worse is that it comes at a time when increasing numbers of people need support. This will not change until we see services properly resourced, adequately staffed and able to cope with the numbers of people in need of help.”

But the region’s mental health chiefs say they invested in ‘strengthening’ community mental health services to improve access to care for patients in their own homes. They say they are also working hard to reduce the amount of time that patients spend in hospital.

Bev Humphrey, chief executive of Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, said feedback from doctors, patients and their carers told the trust that people living with long-term mental health conditions were best cared for at home and that hospital should only be a place for crisis and emergency.

"If someone is in crisis or very unwell, they can have up to three visits in any 24-hour period – any time, day or night – by mental health professionals who will provide intensive care to that patient," she added.

"If the patient does not show signs of improvement, then they will still be admitted to our inpatient wards, if this is the safest and most appropriate place for them. This intensive home-based treatment service is a real alternative to inpatient admission and supports a reduction in the adult and older people’s beds through reinvestment in home treatment and community elements of the care pathway."

The trust also said it was also developing its Woodlands Hospital site as a centre of excellence for older people’s inpatient services across Bolton and Salford as part of a £6 million development.