Mental health patients left naked and suffer overcrowding

Mental health patients are being held unclothed in seclusion and denied access to toilets in overcrowded wards, inspectors have found.

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Mental health patients are being held unclothed in seclusion and denied access to toilets in overcrowded wards, inspectors have found.

Nearly one-third of mental health wards continue to be overcrowded, the annual report by the Care Quality Commission found.

Inspections conducted by the Care Quality Commission in 2009-10 found that 29% of wards were operating above capacity. A further 29% were completely full.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that wards should run at 85% bed occupancy, but only 21% of wards met this standard, said the CQC.

Inspectors observed breaches of people’s dignity on the wards. “Our commissioners noted examples of where seclusion had compromised patients’ dignity and privacy, including where they were held unclothed, or without access to normal toilet facilities,” the report said.

Some wards’ security measures also showed a disregard for people’s privacy. “Some voluntary patients were being treated within locked wards, and so possibly being unlawfully deprived of their liberty,” the report said.

Inspectors reported that staff were not well versed in how to use restraints.

Black and minority ethnic patients were found to be over represented in the in-patient population, a trend which has been shown consistently by the regulator’s annual survey on the topic since 2005.

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