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Jump in physical restraint of mental health patients, claim Lib Dems

  • 27 Comments

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”

Norman Lamb

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.

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb

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“This practice is outdated, dangerous and causes vulnerable people a great deal of distress at a time when they should feel safe and cared for,” he added.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.

  • 27 Comments

Readers' comments (27)

  • we have to be clear on this, Norman Lamb is an idiot. Lets be even clearer most individuals in care are not violent and most nursing staff don't come with a history of violence on a risk assessment. The truth is the rate of staff being assaulted and worse is not on and is unacceptable. Nobody advocates face down but violence doesn't come in tidy boxes. The rate of staff and non-violent patients being assaulted in inpatient is higher due to inappropriate referrals, lack of beds, reputation and safety last, quality and safety preceding health and safety, with risk management tools that underscore the levels of violence going on. The real story are the amount of trusts that hide violence on staff, screw the results, blame staff. It is not through lack of education that difficult situations happens it is through a lack of understanding by the soft liberal headed who don't have a clue what happens on the frontline. No nurse goes with the intention of patients ending up in facedown but it's not scientific and Norman Lambs advocation of turning nursing staff into criminals doesn't help. We all aim for lessening in restrictive practices but the nurse bashing has to stop. Mental health doesn't come in linear clean boxes it is often complex and where on the one hand people can be vulnerable they can also pose risk to others including staff. Norman Lamb presents at times as a management deflection from the truth that the greater number are staff getting hurt and its rising - it doesn't take much to make the correlation. The patient first mentality is great but not at the expense of abusing staff in that scenario your putting patients last. Any trust that is daft to say they are a no restraint trust is not only a liar it should be seriously investigated as putting business first. Nuff said

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  • As a RMN I can assure you that physical restraint is only used as a last resort. Believe me I would love to never have to use it again. Perhaps Mr Lamb would like to make his telephone number available so he could attend such incidents and take charge of the situation from the front line.

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  • Mr Lamb have you ever worked on a ward recently or at all?. Perhaps you should have conducted your research at the nurses station instead of your ivory tower.

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  • Alas if only it were so straight forward, yes its not great but pointing the finger at nurses when most victims are in fact nurses is not going to help. Yes it is about patient safety but ignoring staff safety in favour of cheaper organisation rhetoric and promoting psychiatrist shares in private healthcare is not going to help. A patient who hits a share holding psychiatrist is going to potentially have a hard time but hit a nurse then its the nurse who gets blamed. I'm concerned at the relationship between senior police, ceos and senior clinicians that allow this to happen and ignores/hides the truth. Why don't the media blow the door open on thi s truth? Most RMNs I know are increasingly scared to act and increasingly being brainwashed that it is a failure to do so -get real this is called becoming a victim and blinkers from the fact that sometimes bad things will happen. On the one hand we want to treat people in care as citizens but on the other when people harm we want to treat people with kid gloves. Most nurses and patients are not violent nor staff restrain without best purpose and mental health doesn't mean all patients are without responsibility either. Yes people get hurt but most are staff. The greater problem is not restraint it is the truth to say how it is. Nurses are there to support but there is a guardian element that helps protect individuals and society, without that who will be there to ensure better community. I've seen endless staff get hurt and some blamed for their own assault -Nurses want justice and patient safety including their own. Norman Lamb you are not popular amongest the frontline for good reason and don't expect many of the frontline MH staff to vote for you- it may come as a surprise to you but you are not as popular as you think.

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  • I think it's about time these idiots came to do a few shifts on the wards. Mr Lamb I challenge you to come and work just a week on a ward then you can see just how damaging/unjustified your so called research actually is. You have managed to create an exceptionally negative view of Mental health nursing/nurses one which the profession could do without. Thank god your are a liberal democrat or we would all live in fear of you becoming the health minister.

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  • As a nurse I know staff who have been taken hostage at knife point, hit over the head with blunt wooden instruments, bitten with chunks of flesh taken out, stabbed with forks and knives in the legs, boiling water with sugar thrown over to better scar nurses, pushed, thrown, scratched, punched, strangled, hospitalised, but apparently thats all minor according to risk measurement. Okay so I know less restraint is essential but not when there's no staff or human rights for staff is ignored and its okay to assault and do worse to nurses. Love my patients but I'm so fed up that MH nurses are being demonised when most of us are decent - too many nurses frightened to protect themselves due to harm posed by ignorant politicians, management and media. Yes the plight of the vulnerable is awful but the plight of staff is also dreadful leaving wards thread bare. Nurses and passive patients are not being protected enough by gov or management. Psychological safety in part is a nonsense it is also a physical issue that needs numbers with skill.

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  • Norman Lamb or the MH Commisson wouldn't last a week in a high/ medium secure hospital. Ivory Tower Buffoons who are promoting PR and its okay to be violent against MH staff. The national stats reveal all. Lets see how Norman performs on a high secure DSPD unit. We need to strike more than ever.

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  • Unbelievable level of denial in the comments above! Messenger being attacked in this way is a classic sign of corrupt culture that poisons mental health care for vulnerable people. Before the inevitable attacks, I specialise in supporting people who may present with challenging behaviour. Speak out Mr Lamb!

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  • Not it's not, what is corrupt is the amount of assaults on staff being hidden. There is no denial, only that whilst patient safety is progressive staff safety is not. Misusing Potential political correctness should not stifle a debate that there are two sides to a coin. The denial is that these are also messengers. When someone comes at you with a knife tell me how easy your words are. Stop using antagonistic language there is no attack, but yes I also agree Norman Lamb is not being properly informed. but staff also feel strongly on this. Nobody has said face down is good nor violence is good. Stop catastaphising and polarising. Yes people are vulnerable but sometime unfortunately they do pose risk. No it's time staff spoke out against corporate masters and politicians that attempt to shut them up. Nobody is anti patient here and they shouldn't be hid behind by corporate masters and politicians to distract from their responsibility.

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  • Wow Corrupt and denial of Worldwide MH nursing staff getting hurt in higher numbers. Seen too many people get hurt and too many bystanders hiding behind all kind of views to deny honest understandable fear.

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