The use of physical restraint for mental health patients has increased by almost 17% in the past three years, according to an analysis by the Liberal Democrats.
Meanwhile, there were more than 12,000 incidents of face-down restraint last year, despite efforts to end this “dangerous” practice, show figures collated from mental health trusts.
“Heavy use of physical restraint is utterly unacceptable”
The research was conducted by Lib Democrat health spokesman and former care minister Norman Lamb, who has campaigned to reduce the use of physical restraint in health and care settings.
The findings are based on responses to Freedom of Information requests from 50 out of the 58 mental health trusts in England.
The statistics show the number of times patients were restrained in 2015-16 was 66,681 – an average of 183 restraints per day, according to the Liberal Democrat analysis.
This is an increase of nearly 17% compared to figures reported by the same trusts for 2013-14.
Trusts reported 12,347 incidents of face-down restraint over the last year, in spite of government guidance aimed at halting the practice.
This is down on the 12,830 incidents reported two years previously but the Liberal Democrats said it was clear the practice was still “widespread”.
Meanwhile, the research shows 1,548 injuries to patients and 2,789 injuries to staff reported to be the result of physical restraint.
In April 2014, when he was care minister in the coalition government, Mr Lamb issued guidance on the use of face-down and physical restraint alongside a £1.2m investment in staff training.
He called on the current government to investigate why it was still happening.
“Heavy use of physical restraint is utterly unacceptable and has no place in our NHS,” he said.
“This practice is outdated, dangerous and causes vulnerable people a great deal of distress at a time when they should feel safe and cared for,” he added.
“The health secretary must urgently follow up with trusts who are still frequently using physical and face-down restraint and review why this is still happening,” said Mr Lamb.
“It is simply not good enough for us to keep failing vulnerable people in this way,” he said.