More people are attending A and E as a result of a mental health related issue.

Let's Talk About It - the North Devon Gazette's campaign on mental health.Let's Talk About It - the North Devon Gazette's campaign on mental health.

The number of patients attending A and E as a result of a mental health incident has increased, NHS figures show.

The Gazette obtained figures relating to attendances to A and E in North Devon over the last ten years.

The results show that the last three years have seen a spike in attendances, with 800 patients accessing A and E in 2013, compared to 266 the previous year.

In 2015, 2.35 per-cent of A and E attendances were mental health related - the highest percentage of the last ten years.

As few as 0.66 per-cent of A and E attendances were due to mental health in 2012.

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Rob Sainsbury, director of operations for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said the figures reflected a national picture.

He said: “We have seen a rise in mental health related A&E attendances both in under 18s and in general, and this is a picture that is reflected nationally.

“It is important to note that there has also been an increase both locally and nationally in overall A&E attendances, although we know mental health related attendances have seen a bigger rise.

“Improving mental health care is one of the Government’s and the NHS’ top priorities.”

Although figures are seen to have risen, it is unclear what the rise is down to.

Marie Ash of Devon Suicide Prevention Alliance, said: “It could be a mixture of things. Services can be limited and unfortunately there aren’t always enough counsellors or therapists to meet the demand.

“Secondly, some of these issues people have can’t be dealt with in a short space of time.

“It could also be that people are more aware of mental health.”

Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides mental health services across the county, noted an increase in people needing to access services.

A spokesman for the trust said: “We are seeing an increase in demand for many of our services and are always striving to secure additional funding to extend the support we can offer to people.

“There is now national recognition that mental health services have been historically under-funded and increasing determination to address the issue - and we very much welcome this.”

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