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Monday, 07 August 2017

Big increase in number of investigations into abuse of mental health patients

Written by Scott D'Arcy

Investigations into abuse of mental health patients have nearly doubled in three years, according to a report.

An analysis of NHS figures obtained by The Times through Freedom of Information requests, found abuse incidents recorded by mental health trusts had risen from 106 in 2013/14 to 199 in 2015/16.

Inquiries into reports of abuse of child patients jumped from nine to 39 in a single year.

The investigations were among more than 5,000 serious incidents recorded by trusts in the same year, including thousands of self-harm cases, hundreds of suicides and deaths of children, the paper said.

NHS England data showed there had been more than a thousand complaints related to care, including delays, while there had been 2,170 serious incidents of self-harm, 371 suicides and 198 confidential information leaks.

The figures come after a High Court judge, Sir James Munby, hit out at a "disgraceful" lack of provision available for a suicidal teenager.

Norman Lamb (pictured), a former Liberal Democrat health minister, told The Times that force was used in mental health treatment "far too much".

"It's just intolerable - the trusts need to be accountable," he said.

"The use of physical force is endemic in the system.

"Abuse of patients on the face of it can be characterised as gross misconduct."

Reports of serious incidents require an investigation under guidance issued by the health service regulator NHS Improvement.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "If there are serious incidents where patient safety has been put at risk we expect mental health trusts to investigate immediately to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"Serious incidents remain rare across the NHS and our guidance makes clear restraint should only be used as a last resort."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Ben Birchall / PA Wire.