50,000 Mental Health Act detentions in 2012/13


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Posted on 28/01/2014

The CQC today publishes its annual report about use of the Mental Health Act in England, revealing that the number of detentions, which has risen by 12 per cent in the last five years, exceeded 50,000 in 2012/13.

The report is available to read on the CQC website. The key findings are:

  • There are problems with access to care during a mental health crisis.
  • On almost all wards, patients had access to independent advocacy services.
  • There have been improvements in helping patients draw up advance statements of their preferences for care and treatment.
  • More than a quarter (27 per cent) of care plans showed no evidence of patients being involved in creating them. 
  • There is widespread use of blanket rules including strict visiting times and access to the internet, outside areas and rooms.
  • Health-based places of safety, for people experiencing a mental health crisis, are often not staffed at all times. As a result, people are taken into police custody, including children as young as 11.
  • Carers are not always provided with enough information on how to get help in a crisis.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:

"As the number of detentions under the Mental Health Act tops 50,000 for the first time, national and local commissioners need to urgently look at the services they provide and ensure they are adequately resourced and able to cope with demand. That more people are becoming so unwell they need to be formally admitted to hospital suggests failings in services that are supposed to help people manage their mental health problems at an earlier stage.

“There are obvious pressures on the system, which are having a significant impact on the care of people who are at their most unwell. Increasing bed shortages and staffing difficulties resulting from cuts to mental health services over two consecutive years mean people aren’t getting the help they need. We are concerned at the evident lack of therapeutic activities available on some wards – it is essential that services focus on recovery rather than simply containing people who are in crisis.

"We welcome and echo the CQC’s call for trusts to reduce their use of seclusion and restraint to a minimum, and to involve people in planning their own care as a means to achieving this. In difficult financial times more than ever people must be placed at the absolute heart of their care and treatment and have as much control as possible over what happens to them. It is good news that access to advocacy is now commonplace, as this helps ensure that people can understand and exercise their rights while under section.

“The government has this month reinforced its commitment to bringing mental health out of the shadows and putting mental and physical health services on an equal footing. Excellent crisis care does exist, but today’s report is a stark reminder of just how much needs to be done to make sure that all people with mental health problems get the help they need.”

Read about Claire’s experience of being detained under section in Manchester in 2012.

Find out about our campaign to end face down restraint.

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