Restraint use stuns charity

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A MENTAL health trust has been criticised for having some of the highest use of physical restraint against vulnerable people in the country.

Shocking new figures revealed the 5 Boroughs Partnership Foundation NHS Trust, which serves the Wigan area, recorded 1,415 incidents of physical restraint in 2011-12, more than one in eight of all cases recorded in the North West.

Nearly 2,000 patients experienced physical restraint, compared to an average in England of 247, with 169 incidents resulting in injury.

There were 385 incidents of people being forcibly held down in order to give them medication, while the police were involving in restraining patients with mental health issues on 25 occasions, according to the charity Mind. The number of patients injured or restrained by the 5 Boroughs is higher than most other mental health trusts in England, and Mind has expressed concern at the way vulnerable patients are being treated.

The charity’s chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: “Physical restraint can be humiliating, dangerous and even life-threatening and some trusts are using it too quickly.

“When someone’s life comes crashing down in a crisis they need help, not harm. They may be frustrated, frightened and extremely distressed but even when they seem aggressive and threatening, or refuse treatment, they still desperately need compassion.

“We know healthcare staff do a challenging job and sometimes need to make difficult decisions very quickly, but physical restraint should only be used as the last resort, when there’s no other way of stopping someone from doing themselves or others immediate harm.”

Mind is also calling for the government and NHS England to ban the use of face down restraint, but the 5 Boroughs does not record how many incidents of this type have occurred.

There were 8,550 incidents in the North West in 2011-12, including 271 face down restraints.

A spokesman for the 5 Boroughs said: “The care and safety of our patients and staff is our top priority.

“The 5 Boroughs actively encourages staff to report all incidents. Our records show 88 per cent of incidents of restraint resulted in no harm to our service users and the remaining 12 per cent resulted in a low level of harm as defined by the National Patient Safety Agency.”