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Number of Oxleas mental health patients physically restrained above national average

PUBLISHED: 13:03 21 June 2013 | UPDATED: 13:13 24 June 2013

The number of patients treated by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust who experience physical restraint is significantly above the national average, according to new figures released.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by mental health charity Mind found that 404 different patients experience physical restraint in 2011/2012, significantly above the national average of 247.

But the trust did fall below the national average for individual incidents - 419 as opposed to 455.

Oxleas has services across south-east London and Kent, some of them for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, and has been chosen to take over the running of the Queen Mary’s Hospital site in Sidcup while providing some of the services following the break-up of South London Healthcare Trust.

It did not provide data for incidents of face-down restraint, incidents resulting in psychological harm, where police were involved or where restraint was used to administer medication.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “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.

“We know that healthcare staff do a challenging job and sometimes need to make difficult decisions very quickly, but physical restraint should only be used as the last resort, when there’s no other way of stopping someone from doing themselves or others immediate harm.”

A spokesman for Oxleas said: “At Oxleas we take the safety of our patients very seriously. Unfortunately in mental health and learning disability services it is sometimes necessary to restrain patients to prevent them from hurting themselves or others. Our staff are trained in the safe use of restraint based on national guidelines.

“Restraint is only used when other methods to prevent or de-escalate the situation have not worked. All restraints are reported as an incident and a full debriefing is carried out. When the situation has defused we discuss the reasons for the restraint with the patient.

“Mind’s figures are based on an average for all trusts. When comparing figures, account should be taken of the fact we provide inpatient beds for 3 London boroughs and also provide around 120 medium and low secure beds. These are specialist services for people referred to us via the criminal justice system and are only provided by selected mental health trusts.”

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