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Concerns over restraint of mental health patients

New NHS data raises concerns over the restraint of mental health patients.

Young women and black people are significantly more likely to be restrained on mental health wards compared to other patients.

We are very alarmed to hear this news.

As stated by MIND, Mental Health Charity, the emotional damage of restraint of mental health patients is “costly, traumatising and can last a lifetime.”

Restraint comes in many different forms and is not solely about physically restraining people.

It includes the use of seclusion to isolate patients and the use of medication to try and subdue patients.

The data shows that patients in NHS mental health units were physically restrained by staff more than 80,000 times last year in Britain. 10,000 of those who were held face down or given injections of medication intended to subdue them.

Black people were more than three times more likely to be restrained than white people.

It also shows prone restraint, which guidance says should be used only in life-threatening situations, is used on fewer women than men, but is used on the former more often.

Recognising the overuse and abuse of restraint of mental health patients, the Department of Health published guidance for health and social care providers in 2014. It called upon them to reduce the use of all forms of restraint and restriction, and to eliminate the dangerous practice of face down restraint.

Despite the guidance being released 3 years ago, it is clear from the new data that the guidance is not being adhered to in all cases.

Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs at the charity Rethink Mental Illness has said: “It is troubling to see how prevalent the most severe, and dangerous, kinds of restraint are in the mental health system.”

Prone restraint, Mr Dow warned, “can be terrifying and badly damage someone’s recovery”.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, the Director of Agenda, an alliance of 70 organisations working with women and girls who are at risk, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that so many women and girls are being restrained over and over again.

“The picture for girls and young women is particularly alarming ...

with those under 20 subjected to restrictive practices nearly 30 times each on average, the majority of these being incidents of physical and face-down restraint."

“More than half of women who have mental health problems have experienced abuse, so not only is restraint frightening and humiliating, it also risks retraumatising them.”

In July 2017 the Care Quality Commission’s annual report was released.

Within the report it was said its inspectors had found unwarranted and wide-ranging variation between units in terms of how often staff used restraint. Wards with low rates had staff who had been trained to handle difficult behaviour and de-escalate challenging situations.

It is clear that further extensive training needs to be provided to all mental healthcare staff to ensure restraint is being used to a lesser extent.

Here at Swain & Co Solicitors our specialist Mental Health Lawyers have represented many patients detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 (as amended). We advise in relation to any treatment you are unhappy about, including the use of restraint.

Swain & Co Solicitors work tirelessly to assist vulnerable people and ensure that their rights under the Mental Health Act are observed.  If you, a family member or friend are experiencing problems or are detained under the Mental Health Act contact our team today on 023 92 483322. 

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