Services for vulnerable 'unfit for purpose' - article by Nina Lakhani, 'I' News 21. 11. 2011
"Mental Health services for society's most vulnerable people are unfit for purpose, according to a damning independent enquiry published today.
Seriously ill patients are subject to assaults, taunts and overcrowding in overstretched hospital wards where containment rather than recovery is the the priority. Meanwhile, others on the verge of suicide or a breakdown cannot access help because crisis teams are too busy, or closed outside office hours.
Rising demand and government cuts are leaving the services at breaking point in some areas.
[ More than 1.25 million people used specialist mental health services in 2009/2010 in England alone; out of those 107,765 were admitted to a psychiatric hospital in crisis ].
The year long independent inquiry by the charity MIND found huge variances in hospital and community crisis services across England and Wales. Evidence from 400 patients and staff found that innovative, humane and responsive services do exist, but only for a lucky minority.
Just over half ofall inpatients felt unsafe or threatened at some point during their stay and one in eight had been physically restrained by staff, according to figures from the Care and Quality Commission.
The number of people detained under the Mental Health Act is on the rise. Afro-Caribbean patients are still twice as likely to be detained than any one else.
The Mind report calls for an outright ban on face-down restraint after the enquiry heard evidence about the ongoing use of potentially fatal techniques. The Government last night said that it would now be considering the use of restraint".
Case Study - "We need a 24/7 robust crisis team".
Hannah Walker, 55, from Dorchester in Dorset was diagnosed with Bi-polar affective disorder by a psychiatrist whilst serving as an R.A.F. officer. She left after 16 years in service in 1991because of her mental illness. ( Since then, she has had 20 hospital admissions ).
"Hospitals are better now than they used to be, mainly because there are single-sex wards which make me feel safer. I live alone, so it's the nights when I am so vulnerable. We need a 24/7 robust crisis team. People should have access to local services that help them, when they need them".
[Transcribed verbatim by RW ]