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CQC: mental health wards ‘unsafe’ for people detained under the Mental Health Act


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
27 February 2019

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The CQC said that some of the mental health wards it has inspected are ‘unsafe’ for people detained under the Mental Health Act.

In a report published yesterday, Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2017/18, the healthcare watchdog noted improvements in the way plans for care were developed in collaboration with patients but was still concerned about the quality and safety of care at mental health wards.

Under the Mental Health Act 1983, hospitals can legally detain people who have serious mental health needs and are putting their safety or that of other people at risk.

Unsafe and poor quality care ‘greatest concern’

In his forward to the CQC report, CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals Paul Lelliott said that unsafe and poor quality care remains their ‘greatest concern’ for the mental health sector.

He said that the CQC has already ‘highlighted the high number of assaults on patients and staff and the frequency of incidents of sexual assault and harassment.’

He said: ‘Many of the wards in which people are detained under the Mental Health Act are unsafe and provide poor quality care.’

He added that this is due to problems related to the ‘physical fabric of wards, which are often located in old and unsuitable buildings, a lack of access to the full range of care interventions and problems with staffing – both number and level of expertise’.

As Healthcare Leader previously reported, almost 2,000 mental health staff left NHS service every month in 2018, according to figures shared by mental health minister Jackie Doyle-Price.

Mental health spending is set to increase by £2bn a year by 2023/24, as part of the NHS long term plan goal to achieve true parity of esteem between mental and physical health.

‘Focus on both the social and physical environment’

Responding to the CQC report, NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said: ‘Mental health services must receive an appropriate share of capital funding to invest in the specialised facilities they need. We also need urgent action to address a severe shortage of mental health staff.’

Mind specialist policy advisor Alison Cobb said that wards should be calm and therapeutic environments to support patients’ recovery.

She added: ‘Anecdotally, we often hear that hospitals can be stark and inhospitable for those receiving treatment. When people are sectioned they can be subject to unnecessary restrictions and practices such as physical restraint, seclusion or forced medication.

‘There must be a focus on both the social and physical environment of wards if we are to see improvements in people’s experiences.’

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