Risk assessment of mental health patients to be improved

The government has set up a new scheme to improve the way professionals assess the risk of mental health patients hurting themselves or others.

Health minister Rosie Winterton said today that the Risk Management Programme would ensure lessons were learned from past incidents and would try to improve information sharing between agencies.

The government said a small minority of mental health patients were at risk and needed intensive support, usually to protect themselves.

But mental health patients also commit 55-60 homicides every year.

Alongside the announcement, the government also published an independent review of homicides committed by people with severe mental illness.

It is also to review its Care Programme Approach to look at how community care can better target people with the highest needs, such as mental health patients.

Winterton said: “We are committed to minimising danger and helping patients regain their independence.”

Mind chief executive Paul Farmer welcomed the review of the Care Programme Approach and said it was crucial to give service users choice over their own care.

But he added: “It is too often the case with the rare homicides committed by people with mental health problems that services have failed to engage with people who are actually going and asking them for help, let alone put together a care plan with them.”

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