Report finds 'serious issues' with the Mental Health Act
In early May, the Department of Health and Social Care published the interim report
of the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, which has found that patients with serious mental illness are suffering neglect, discrimination and lack of dignity when they have been detained for treatment. The section on use of restraint and seclusion notes concerns over the ‘wide variation’ in use of restraint between Mental Health Trusts, as well as the disproportionate use of force on BAME and women patients. It also highlights initial evidence that indicates the importance of de-escalation approaches in reducing the use of restrictive practices. Recommendations in this area include improving data collection on use of force, with the following points picked out for further consideration:
- The practice of restraint and seclusion in relation to a person’s detention, and the options available to strengthen the principle of least restrictive practices
- Monitoring closely the ongoing legislative and policy developments in this area, and considering if and where it is appropriate to make further recommendations
Agenda Director highlights use of force on women
The Director of Agenda, Katharine Sacks-Jones, wrote an article in the Huffington Post in May highlighting the prevalence of mental health disorders among women compared to men, further outlining the lack of adequate support from mental health services. Pointing to the ‘unacceptably high rates of physical restraint among women and girls’, including those who have experienced abuse, she called for more specialised support in this area. Sacks-Jones co-chairs the Women’s Mental Health Taskforce with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, Jackie Doyle-Price MP.
World’s first global ministerial mental health summit to be held in London
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt, recently announced that London will host the first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit in October. The summit will aim to facilitate collaboration between countries in the field of mental health, in order to increase the evidence base for different treatments and to ensure parity of esteem between mental and physical health worldwide. Hunt also announced the launch of the Global Alliance of Champions on Mental Health: established jointly with Australia and Canada, the alliance aims to encourage political leaders to raise the profile of and tackle stigma around mental health.
New standards to support pupils to reach their potential
The Department for Education announced extra support for schools with ‘pupils working below the national curriculum’, as part of their wider efforts to ‘help all children reach their potential’. The support is designed for pupils unable to work to the standard of national curriculum (usually those with learning disabilities). The pre-key stage standards have been developed with ‘teachers and a range of other education experts’ and follow on from the outcome of the public consultation last year in response to the recommendations made by the independent Rochford Review.
Study finds hospitals use restraint techniques on dementia patients
Findings from the National Institute for Health Research found that some dementia patients are being confined to their hospital beds by containment and restraint techniques. The study said these techniques lead to the ‘dehumanisation’ of patients and worsen their health, as well as causing mental distress. The findings have provoked anger among interest groups, with the Department of Health and Social Care declining to comment.
Nursing Times study on restrictive practices on young people in psychiatric wards
In June, The Nursing Times
published the findings of study of the views of former service users, relatives, health professionals and non-clinical staff, regarding the use of restrictive practices in children and young people’s (CYP) psychiatric inpatient services. The study concluded that ‘to facilitate the safe management of behavioural symptoms in CYP inpatient settings, service providers need to ensure that working practices include post-incident debriefs, preventive strategies and collaborative working with families’. Regarding training, it was suggested that there may be a need to develop training programmes to tackle difficulties in predicting the outcomes of the use of restrictive practices.
Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill
The Bill – also known as Seni’s Law – passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday 6 July. It was debated for just an hour, with a number of MPs taking the opportunity to voice their support. Statistics from Agenda’s recently published research into restraint-related deaths among women were quoted by several members, with many also highlighting the disproportionate impact of restraint on BAME patients. The Bill will now move to the House of Lords for debate, probably after the summer recess.