Patients abused and dying in NHS mental health care

Chris Smyth reports in the Times 21st March 2018 on the forgotten and politically inert area of mental health, which accounts for a large part of the Health services budgets. Once Dementia becomes more commonplace, and can be treated, it will be even more….

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Patients abused and dying in NHS mental health care

Mental health patients are being failed by “appalling” care daily, the NHS ombudsman has said.

Patients died because their symptoms were dismissed, a baby was taken from its mother with no explanation and a woman who had been sectioned was forced to menstruate into a plastic cup, Rob Behrens said in examples of mistreatment.

Britain should be shocked at how vulnerable patients were routinely stripped of their dignity by a system that did not have enough skilled staff, an overview of 200 cases concluded.

Bosses must start learning from repeated mistakes rather than succumbing to a “nothing I can do, guv” attitude and ministers must realise that fine words are not enough, Mr Behrens said. “This report shows the harrowing impact that failings in mental healthcare can have. The most important aspects are about the lack of respect for patient dignity and human rights. Some of these cases are appalling.”

While Mr Behrens said most staff were doing their best he insisted that “these things are happening on a daily basis”. “There aren’t enough skilled and qualified staff, there is a problem in recruiting them and there is overuse of agency staff”, he said.

Despite problems of money and staffing he insisted that bosses were not powerless. “[Some trusts] don’t learn the lessons of having made mistakes . . . You can change that, it’s about cultural attitude.”

Theresa May has called the treatment of mental illness a “hidden injustice”. Mr Behrens said that government policy said the right things, but he added: “Having a plan is not enough”. Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, said: “Every patient deserves to be treated with dignity . . . Funding commitments must be met with action.”

NHS Ombudsman (Rob Bohrens) calls out ‘harrowing’ failings in mental health care

Chris Smyth 21st March 2018: Start saving for dementia drug, NHS told


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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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