Self-harm and suicide attempts in psychiatric hospitals could be reduced by increasing checks on patients, study finds

    Self-harm and suicide attempts in psychiatric hospitals could be reduced by increasing regular checks on patients, raising the number of qualified nurses and organising more patient activity sessions, according to research published today.

    Checks on patients known as intermittent observation was more effective than constant observation and cost less than other measures, researchers at City University in London found.

    The survey, based more than 50,000 staff and patients from 136 of the 500 acute admission psychiatric wards in England, also found that the number of admissions to wards and the throughput of people led to a rise in self-harm rates.

    Researchers recommended the “urgent” introduction of patient activities in services without any, and an increase in the number of such sessions in services with less than eight a week.

    Professor Len Bowers from the St Bartholomew School of Nursing & Midwifery at City University, who led the research said: “The current policy of having fewer psychiatric beds and greater patient throughput seems likely to lead to greater levels of self-harm on wards, and may need to be reconsidered.”

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