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Responding to these figures, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of the mental health charity Mind, said:
“Physical restraint can be humiliating, terrifying, dangerous and even life-threatening. Mind has been campaigning for a reduction in how much it is used. Prone restraint, when a person is pinned face-down on the floor, can be particularly dangerous. Our 2013 research showed that some trusts used face-down physical restraint too readily in their response to managing a crisis situation. Often there are problems and practices on wards that lead to restraint, including provocation, poor communication, a lack of understanding by staff, as well as avoidable escalation of difficult situations.
“The data Norman Lamb has obtained under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act shows that in many trusts, the use of restraint has increased, which is worrying but not surprising. When we collected our own data in 2013, we found lots of Trusts hadn’t recorded it properly. It’s vital that Trusts transparently record and publish this data, without someone having to obtain it under FoI. It takes time for changes to be delivered on the ground, but what’s really important is that we keep up momentum for change and make sure every Trust is working towards ending the use of deliberate face-down restraint.
“The NHS is coming to the end of a two-year programme to reduce restrictive practices such as seclusion and restraint and to put an end to deliberate face-down restraint. Every Trust in England should now be implementing new policies and retraining their staff in alternative techniques so that restraint is only ever used as a last resort.”