Following scandals of abuse and neglect of patients and concerns expressed by the NHS care watchdog, a ‘rapid review’ of mental health inpatient care in England has been ordered by Ministers. The Care Quality Commission warned in recent years of the dangerously inadequate care provided to inpatients.
The investigation will be led by psychiatrist Dr Geraldine Strathdee, the former NHS England national clinical director for mental health. The inquiry will examine evidence of ‘safety risks and failures in care’ in units treating patients with serious conditions, such as psychosis and personality disorders. The review will also hear evidence of these failings provided by patients and their families who have experienced the failures first hand.
Other areas of inquiry also include instances of patients being subjected to controversial restraint techniques, being left at risk of being able to take their own lives, being segregated from other inpatients, and how these experiences may have impacted their recovery.
The investigation comes following an increased media scrutiny on the mistreatment of vulnerable inpatients. In September of last year, staff working at Edenfield hospital were accused of mocking, slapping and pinching patients, inappropriately restraining them, and holding people in seclusion for weeks or months. Police said they would investigate these allegations made against one of the UK’s biggest NHS mental health hospitals.
Mental health charities have welcomed the investigation. The recent scandals and campaigns ‘[highlight] the gravity of the situation and the urgency with which standards must improve,’ said Mark Winstanley, the chief executive of the charity Rethink Mental Illness.
The chief executive of Mind, Sarah Hughes, believes the inquiry ordered by Minsters will be ‘a positive step’ following the ‘deeply concerning reports’ in recent years. She added that the “review needs to gather information on the much deeper-set systemic failings in mental health care, and establish what works in successful mental health settings that provide therapeutic and safe care.”