Survey reveals grim reality of inpatient care
Posted Friday 23 March 2007
Patient census uncovers appalling scale of mixed-sex wards scandal and widespread racial discrimination in mental health care
Patient research released today shows black people are still far more likely than average to be sectioned. The study reveals that African-Caribbean people are up to 38 per cent more likely than average to be detained under the Mental Health Act, and black men are up to 57 per cent more likely to be subject to seclusion - being locked away in a room by themselves.
The census also shows that a stunning 55 per cent of mental health patients were accommodated on mixed-sex wards last year, making it the norm for patients, despite Government claims that mixed-sex accommodation is the exception.
Health ministers claim that "a very small number of patients, when admitted as an emergency, may be put in mixed-sex accommodation", and that "99 per cent of trusts that provide mental health services meet single-sex accommodation objectives. (Lord Warner, July 2006)
Four years after the Government pledged to abolish mixed-sex wards, Mind's 2004 Ward Watch report revealed alarming levels of abuse, harassment and intimidation on mixed-sex wards. Last summer, Mind forced the release of a suppressed Government report showing the level of assault and abuse in mental health wards.
Chief executive of Mind, Paul Farmer, said:
"It is quite staggering how bad the mixed sex wards situation is. The NHS is putting some of the most vulnerable people in some of the most threatening and unpleasant environments. There is a chasm between the Government's claims and this independent data. How many more women will be abused before the Government acts on mixed-sex wards?"
"These inequalities in mental health care cannot be allowed to continue. Yet the Government's Mental Health Bill is set to make things worse. Ministers have refused to ensure that the Bill will be applied in a non-discriminatory, 'race-neutral' way. They continue to resist calls for a statement of principles with the Bill, including a principle of equality. This research shows how urgently these amendments must be made if we are to make any progress towards a just mental health system for all."
"The Government's Delivering Race Equality programme is not making sufficient progress in tackling this huge problem. The money provided to trusts for work on the programme is not ring-fenced, and it's clear that too many trusts are not spending it where they should. It is crucial that this work is prioritised and that the money for it is now ring-fenced."
"The DRE programme is also heavily focused on community initiatives, with too little attention paid to enforcement and ensuring that race equality is built into everything that health trusts do."
Clare Allan, Orange Prize nominated author and former inpatient said:
"I've been on about twenty different wards, and only one of them was single sex. Mixed sex wards are notorious for incidents of sexual harassment and abuse. They can feel threatening for already vulnerable patients, and they are often far from being therapeutic environments."