Mind's Ward Watch findings justified by new reports
Posted Tuesday 24 May 2005
Two new reports on inpatient conditions in the NHS for mental health service users justify Mind's Ward Watch claims, previously dismissed by the Government as 'unrepresentative'. The Sainsbury Centre's Acute Care 2004 (with NIMHE), and the RCP's National Audit of Violence (with the Healthcare Commission) both substantiate the findings of Mind's earlier Ward Watch report.
Mind published the results of its Ward Watch survey in September 2004 revealing deeply disturbing levels of abuse, harrassment and fear amongst mental health service users on inpatient wards. These two nationally funded research studies corroborate our findings, and highlight yet again the necessity for these appalling conditions to be addressed.
Ward Watch revealed that 51 per cent of recent or current inpatients reported being verbally or physically threatened during their stay, with 20 per cent reporting physical assault, and 18 per cent sexual harrassment. The National Audit of Violence reports that over a third (36 per cent) of service users have been personally attacked, threatened or made to feel unsafe, and almost half (47 per cent) have witnessed this on the ward. Views from staff are conflicting, with 84 per cent feeling their ward is a safe place (Acute Care) - but 78 per cent having been assaulted or threatened at work (National Audit of Violence). Have we got to the stage where staff simply regard threats and assault as a normal part of the job?
Mind firmly believes that creating a therapeutic environment for service users is a vital factor in reducing the number of violent incidents which occur on inpatient wards. Fifty three per cent of respondents to the Mind survey felt that the ward environment had not helped their recovery, with almost a third believing it had made their health worse. Boredom was a key theme raised by the findings of The National Audit of Violence; half the service users who responded to the survey felt that provision of activities for evenings and weekends was inadequate. The fact that 22 per cent of ward managers (Acute Care) are prepared to admit that their ward environment does not promote positive mental health care for service users is surely a cause for grave concern.
Speaking today in response to the publications of the surveys, Mind's Chief Executive Richard Brook said:
"The findings of Mind's Ward Watch report have been fully vindicated by the publication of these two nationally funded reports and we must yet again ask why conditions on many inpatient wards have been allowed to degenerate to such a degree. People with mental health problems have a right to expect therapeutic care but are too often subjected to inhumane treatment and unsafe environments. Staff also deserve to feel safe at work."