PLANS to resolve the ‘unacceptable’ mental healthcare situation in Dorset are being drawn up ‘as a matter of urgency’ – with the Prime Minister set to be asked for extra funding today.

As reported in the Echo yesterday, Dorset HealthCare University Found-ation Trust has no psychiatric intensive care unit beds for women in the county, which has resulted in patients being routinely transferred to hospitals as far away as West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester – at a cost of more than £1.8million in the last year.

Annette Brooke, MP for North Poole and Mid Dorset, raised the issue with minister for care and support Norman Lamb last month after two of her constituents told her about their own experiences of the trust’s care.

Mr Lamb has written a letter to Ms Brooke saying Dorset HealthCare is ‘working up proposals as a matter of urgency’ with the aim of providing beds for women in need of intensive care treatment in Dorset ‘as soon as is feasible’.

He said: “As you may be aware, there is a male-only PICU [psychiatric intensive care unit] ward at St Ann’s Hospital in Poole. However, the CCG [clinical commissioning group] and DHC [Dorset HealthCare] agree that it would not be acceptable for female patients to be cared for on that ward.

“The two organisations are working together to provide female PICU beds in-county as soon as is feasible.

“I understand DHC is working up proposals as a matter of urgency and expects to have a business case completed by the end of this calendar year.”

Ms Brooke told the Echo she thinks increased funding is the best way to tackle the problem and will raise the matter with David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions.

“I have not worked out the exact wording of my question yet, but I am going to use it to ask for extra funding for the NHS, with a particular emphasis for mental health care, in the autumn statement.”

A spokesman for Dorset HealthCare said that there is ‘no update’ further to the statement printed in the Echo yesterday, in which Eugine Yafele, lead director for mental health at the trust, acknowledged the absence of intensive care beds for women is ‘unacceptable’ and said the trust was working towards ‘finalising a detailed plan by Christmas’.