MENTAL-HEALTH patients appear to be increasingly at risk of abuse, according to new statistics from the NHS.
Abuse incidents recorded by English mental health trusts rose from 106 in 2013-14 to 199 in 2015-16. Investigations into reports of abuse of child patients jumped from nine to 39 in one 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.
NHS England data revealed more than 1,000 complaints related to care, while there had been 2,170 serious incidents of self-harm, 371 suicides and 198 confidential information leaks.
The shocking figures come after High Court judge Sir James Munby hit out last week at a “disgraceful” lack of care provision available for a suicidal teenager.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced grandiose plans to improve mental-health services with the aim of treating an extra million patients a year. The plans would involve appointing an extra 21,000 nurses and other staff by 2021.
But recruitment of student nurses has also plummeted following the government’s abolition of trainee bursaries. And the NHS is already struggling with a shortage of 24,000 nurses, including thousands specialising in mental health. Labour’s shadow minister for mental health Barbara Keeley dismissed the plans as “jam tomorrow.”
The new figures were obtained by The Times via Freedom of Information requests. Liberal former health minister Norman Lamb, who allowed the Tories to make savage cuts to the health service, told the paper that force was used in mental-health treatment “far too much.”
He said: “It’s just intolerable — the trusts need to be accountable.
“The use of physical force is endemic in the system.”
Mental health rights charity Mind policy and campaigns manager Leila Reyburn said: “People are still being subjected to high levels of physical restraint and kept in unsafe wards and these figures reflect that.
“This is unacceptable. When a person is in hospital at their most unwell they need help, not harm, and the very least they should expect is that they, their friends and their families can trust in those providing their care.”
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Serious incidents remain rare across the NHS and our guidance makes clear restraint should only be used as a last resort.”