The Department of Health today announced a package of measures to improve safety on inpatient mental health settings, including targeting ?30 million capital funding to improve the sexual safety of female patients.
Earlier this year the National Patient Safety Agency published the first detailed analysis of safety incidents in mental health services. Although most incidents resulted in little or no harm to patients, the report identified a number of serious incidents relating to the sexual safety of patients. The Department immediately commissioned the National Director for Mental Health Professor Louis Appleby to review these incidents. This review has now been completed, and Professor Appleby has today written to Health Minister Rosie Winterton setting out his findings and recommending a range of measures to address the safety of inpatients in mental health settings.
The department will be:
Targeting ?30 million of central capital money to enhance safety on mental health wards, particularly for women users;
Ensuring patients are provided with greater support when they wish to report an incident;
Issuing guidance to help mental health trusts ensure that all safety incidents and allegations are managed effectively and appropriately.
Professor Louis Appleby said:
“Although the vast majority of mental health patients receive safe and effective care, we need to do more to prevent serious incidents from occurring and when they do occur we must ensure that they are dealt with effectively.
“I was particularly concerned by some of the issues raised by the recent National Patient Safety Agency report, especially the 19 allegations of rape. I have now collected information from the mental health trusts where these incidents are said to have taken place. Although it was not our aim to determine whether the allegations were true or not, we did receive details on most cases and in my opinion there is significant doubt in the majority as to whether any incident occurred. For example, several allegations were made when the patient’s mental state was severely disturbed, and the details of the allegations reflected this. This significant doubt applies to 13 of the 19 – there are too few details in the rest to make any comment. It is important to remember that press reporting in July assumed that 19 rapes had occurred: the reputation of mental health services may well have been unfairly damaged by this.
“Despite what has been discovered about these 19 cases, I believe that the general issue of sexual safety remains important and I am determined to see that this issue is addressed.
“I am therefore proposing to take forward a series of measures to reassure patients, further improve safety and ensure that all incidents are fully investigated. Thanks to substantial investment, services have improved considerably in recent years. However, we must now redouble our efforts to further improve the quality of services and ensure that patients receive the best care possible.”
Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said: “These are welcome first steps to address a very serious issue. We need to see the eradication of mixed-sex wards and the introduction of a proper annual reporting system of safety incidents. We hope that user confidence can be increased by their fullest involvement in the progression to be made in this crucial area.”
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Sub-editorHealth :: Improved safety for mental health inpatients
by Sub-editor ( Author at Spirit India )
Posted on November 2nd, 2006 at 10:42 am.
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