Mind adds to fears over true number of sexual assaults in service units

A leaked report that revealed more than 100 incidents of sexual assault and harassment in mental health units over a two-year period could underestimate the problem, according to a charity.

Mind has called on the government to publish the Mental Health Observatory report, which was leaked to The Times this week but has reportedly been with the Department of Health since November, so its findings can be acted upon.

The newspaper claimed that the report, prepared by the National Patient Safety Agency, detailed more than 10 rapes in the two years to October 2005 and three unwanted pregnancies in a single year.

The figures reportedly include staff-on-patient incidents and come in the same week as it was revealed that seven mental health trusts were unable to demonstrate they carried out proper employment checks.

The NHS trust declarations on basic standards, published by the Healthcare Commission, revealed that two mental health trusts admitted they had not met vetting standards and five were unable to prove whether they had or not.

While the vast majority of mental health trusts complied with most of the core standards, three said they did not meet basic patient safety standards.

Four of the 61 mental health trusts listed said they had been unable to provide services in environments which “promote effective care”.

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer said it was “absolutely unacceptable” that the NPSA report had remained unpublished for so long.

The charity said further incidents might have been prevented if earlier action had been taken.

A Department of Health spokesperson said a report on patient safety in mental health services was still being prepared.

What the research says

  • levels of violence triggered by substance misuse, overcrowding, and inadequate staffing – National Audit of Violence, Healthcare Commission, May 2005
  • Almost a quarter of impatient respondents accomodated in mixed sex ward – Wards Watch, Mind, September 2004<LILMOST P 2004 

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