Government faces legal action over human rights abuses in in-patient settings

    Data reveals high number of restrictive interventions being used on held patients

      • Sector News
    • 08.02.20

    The government has been urged to take urgent action following the publication of data from NHS Digital, which revealed that a high number of restrictive interventions are being used on over 2,000 people with a learning disability and/or autism in inpatient units. 

    According to the data, 1,950 adults and 235 children with a learning disability or autism are currently being held. A high number of uses of restrictive interventions have also been reported – 3,500 in one month, of which 805 were against children. 

    Mencap said these figures are likely to be just the “tip of the iceberg” as the data is only for 3 out of 18 private/independent providers and 28 out of 54 NHS providers.

    The figures were published a week after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) threatened legal action against the Health Secretary over the government’s repeated failure to stop human rights abuses in in-patient settings. 

    The EHRC said currently there is a “systemic failure to protect the right to a private and family life, and right to live free from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

    Mencap: Government and NHS risk missing another target

    Equality and Human Rights Commission: Health Secretary faces legal challenge for failing patients with learning disabilities and autism

    NHS Digital: Learning disability statistics 

    Maybo perspective

    There are times when restrictive interventions are necessary, proportionate and genuinely in a person's best interests.  We share concerns however, that such interventions continue to be used unnecessarily and excessively by some services and carers who could avoid these through better understanding the people they support and meeting their needs. 

    Maybo training starts with an understanding of human rights and recognising restrictive practices (it is surprising how many staff don't!). We then develop practical skills for building positive relationships and reducing and managing behaviours of concern.

    Training is important but we need to remember that 'culture eats policy and training for breakfast', so clear leadership and active supervision is essential. Greater focus on supervisory skills and accountability is needed to deliver and maintain healthy cultures.

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