Health minister Norman Lamb told the BBC he is "very interested" in banning the use of face-down restraint. He said: "If that is possible, it should be done."
– Paul Farmer, Mind chief executive
Physical restraint can be humiliating, dangerous and even life-threatening and the huge variation in its use indicates that some trusts are using it too quickly.
Face-down restraint, when a person is pinned face-down on the floor, is particularly dangerous, as well as extremely frightening to the person being restrained. It has no place in modern healthcare and its use must be ended.
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust have responded to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act that show the trust recorded 923 incidents of face-down restraint.
– A statement from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust
Reasons for restraint can include a patient being violent or aggressive to either themselves or others with a small percentage of patients requiring high levels of restraint due to the complex nature of their illness.
Analysis of our figures has shown that a small group of less than 50 patients, who demonstrate very complex and high-risk behaviours, account for over two thirds of the recorded incidents of restraint.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed 39,883 recorded incidents of all kinds of physical restraint in mental health trusts during 2011/12:
- Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust reported just 38 incidents over the year while Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust reported 3,346.
- Figures for overall physical restraint incidents, including face-down incidents, were compiled from answers provided by 51 mental trusts.
- More than half of the responding trusts, or 27, said 3,439 of the incidents were of face-down restraint, a potentially life-threatening form of restraint.
- Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust recorded 923 incidents of face-down restraint and Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust 810,
- A separate survey of 375 frontline healthcare staff involved, showed almost a quarter, 22%, had not had face-to-face training on physical restraint techniques.
- More than four in ten, or 42% said that with hindsight, they felt that restraint.
Nearly 40,000 incidents of physical restraint on mental health patients were recorded in one year - with more than 3,000 in the "dangerous" face-down position - according to figures.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed 39,883 recorded incidents in England of all kinds of physical restraint in mental health trusts during 2011/12, resulting in at least 949 injuries to people with mental health problems.
Mental health charity Mind said there was "huge variation" between trusts in the use of all types of physical restraint.