Mental Health Patients Often Held in Police Cells – Shameful!

Heads should be hanging in shame in the West Country today as a report indicates that mental health patients in a crisis situation are often being held in police cells instead of a suitable mental care facility.

The report by the Care Quality Commission – the body that assesses healthcare – found there were significant failings in delivering places of safety by the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership.

The NHS trust – which provides mental health services across Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire – has been told overall it “requires improvement”.

Inspectors found patients were regularly waiting more than twelve hours for an assessment and even longer for admission to a suitable ward.

Dr Paul Lelliott, the Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals said:

When a person in a crisis who requires mental health care is detained by the police, they should be taken immediately to a properly staffed place of safety where they can be assessed by a mental healthcare professional.

They should be taken to a police cell only in exceptional circumstances. We found that too often the designated places of safety were not available when needed.

This must be addressed as a priority and I know the trust is already working closely with the police to tackle this problem.

After its last inspection in December 2015 the CQC served a Warning Notice because of concerns about mental health care in Bristol.

It found people needing urgent community-based mental health services were waiting several months for assessment.

As well as finding areas where problems persist, the latest inspection in May found major improvements – particularly in community mental health services in Bristol.


Posted in: mental health

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