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CQC says 16% of mental health patients 'never feel safe' on wards

  • 3 Comments

Acute mental health trusts have improved their services, but gaps remain in patient involvement and safety, a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report has found.

The survey, which polled 7,500 people recently discharged from 64 NHS trusts across England, revealed that only one-third (34%) felt they had a significant input into decisions over their care and treatment.

While almost half (45%) of those polled said they had always felt safe on wards, 39% claimed they had only sometimes felt secure and a further 16% said they had never felt so at all.

The report also revealed limited access to talking therapies such as counselling or managing anxiety, with fewer than half of the 52% who wanted talking therapies getting any.

Of the patients sectioned under the Mental Health Act, 27% said they did not have their rights explained in a way they could understand.

Barbara Young, chair of the CQC, said: “It is not acceptable for people to feel unsafe in hospital or for them not to be to given basic information about their care and treatment.

“All trusts must provide a therapeutic environment in which patients can feel safe and recover.”

Commenting on the results, Steve Shrubb, director of the Mental Health Network, which represents the majority of NHS mental health trusts, said: “We know that the best care is brought about where the service user is fully engaged in the decisions made around their care so this kind of patient feedback is a vital to improving services.

“These figures will further challenge mental health organisations to address issues around safety, related physical health problems and involvement so that all trusts are up to the standards of the best.”

  • 3 Comments

Readers' comments (3)

  • Standards have been falling in many acute units for several years now.
    Too few beds means higher concentrations of acutely ill patients in fewer acute services, and many staff feel too scared or unsupported to raise concerns about safety or to challenge dangerous behaviour.

    The most able staff often leave acute units to work in the community, and the wards are often staffed with the least experienced staff, or staff from NHSP or agencies who do not know the patients or the ward.

    It`s not really surprising that many patients feel unsafe.

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  • Acute wards are inherently unsafe because they are often full of patients, some of whom have a great capacity for violence, who are ill and can be unpredictable.
    That will never change, and short of giving each patient their own bodyguard I fail to see how they can be made any safer.
    I work there, and I feel unsafe all the time.
    But then in my experience the safety of staff isn't seen as a priority by managers.

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  • Although patient safety is supposed to be paramount, there have been recent developments in my clinical area which impedes this especially at night. There is now no on-call doctor at night on site and the SHO is split between 3 sites. The consequences of this is that if any incidents of violence and aggression, the NICE guidelines are not met. This is stressful for staff and potentially detremental to patients. How can we as professionals endervour to promote safety when we feel unsupported.

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