SecuriCare can reveal that thousands of patients in NHS mental health units are injured every year when they are restrained by staff. This according to new figures which campaigners have branded “horrifying”.

RiskA total of 3,652 patients suffered an injury through being restrained during 2016-17 – the highest number ever – according to data from 48 of England’s 56 mental health trusts. The figures raise serious questions about the effectiveness of the government’s drive to reduce use of techniques which critics say can be traumatic for patients and even endanger their lives.

“Whilst this dramatic increase may be partly explained by improved reporting, the scale of injuries is horrifying. This is also, no doubt, in part due to the stress that many trusts are under, with bed occupancy close to 100% and often relying on agency staff,” said Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb. He was the health minister in the coalition government which in 2014 ordered NHS mental health trusts to reduce their use of restraint.

“This amounts to a serious and unacceptable breach of people’s human rights,” he added. “What is most shocking is that some of those against whom restraint is used have suffered abuse in their lives. For them, restraint amounts to an assault, which can be frightening and can completely undermine trust.”

Alison Cobb, a senior policy and campaigns officer at Mind, the mental health charity, said the increase was “alarming”.

“Physical restraint can be humiliating, terrifying and even life-threatening,” she said. “It should only be used as the last resort, when there is no other way of de-escalating a situation where someone may harm themselves or others.”

Statutory guidance is needed to improve both standards of training, especially in de-escalation techniques, and the recording of the use of restraint, Dadds added.

The figures come just before Croydon North Labour MP Steve Reed’s mental health units (use of force) bill, which aims to reduce use of restraint, returns to the Commons on Friday. It was inspired by the death of his 23-year-old constituent Olaseni Lewis, who died after being restrained at the Bethlem Royal mental health hospital in Kent in 2010.

Joanne Purvis from SecuriCare says, “Risk needs to be identified and ideally eliminated, if not it needs to be managed carefully and transparently. The notion that restraint should be conceptualised as a treatment failure has great merit. We must always seek alternatives to restraint. Always. The question that need to be continually asked and answered is ‘Do I really need to use restraint in this situation?’ Only if the answer is yes, and that there is no other alternative, should a follow question be raised ‘How do I make sure it’s as safe as it can possibly be?’. Everyone must be accountable for their actions.”

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to ensure that nominated trainers can help staff to respond safely and effectively to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur, including the application of ‘Physical Interventions techniques’. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners. Click to see our ‘Preventing & Managing Challenging Behaviour’ Course which includes ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ techniques designed to minimise the need for any kind of restrictive intervention. You can also take a look at our person centred Behaviour Planning Service.

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Read more in The Observer HERE