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Regulator to tighten up on use of restraint in mental health

Why is the CQC cracking down on restraint use in mental health care?

Care Quality Commission regulators have revealed plans to strengthen assessment of the way mental health care services use physical restraint.

In a foreword to a review of mental health care, CQC deputy chief inspector Dr Paul Lelliott states that services where staff frequently resort to restrictive interventions will be subjected to much tougher scrutiny.

CQC inspectors are concerned that there is ‘great variation’ in how frequently staff physically restrain patients whose behaviour they find challenging. The Department of Health published guidance on tackling the issue three years ago.

Variation is also found when comparing the similar patient groups in wards at different trusts.

Dr Lelliott warned that providers and commissioners must learn from services that are getting it right, and said the CQC will play its part in highlighting good practice and supporting improvement.

Another area of concern identified by the CQC is the large number of patients who are cared for on locked rehabilitation wards, often far from friends and families.

The inspectors concluded that these are effectively long-stay wards and can institutionalise patients rather than returning them to a more independent life in their own community. Some lacked staff with the skills to deliver rehabilitation.

Further information

CQC: The state of care in mental health services 2014 to 2017 Positive and proactive care: reducing the need for restrictive interventions

HSJ: ‘Too much poor care’ in mental health providers