Northampton MP and mental health charity call for review of St Andrew's following Channel Four documentary
A town MP has called for a review into the use of restraint and seclusion at Northampton's St Andrew's Hospital after a documentary claimed one patient was kept in isolation for 22 months.
Last night's Dispatches programme on Channel Four saw producers interview two ex-patients at the hospital after the Care Quality Commission found there had been 600 incidents of face-down restraint used in the facility’s child and adolescent wards during 2015 and 2016.
Both interviewees, who have both since left the facility, claimed to have been physically restrained or secluded during their time there. One in particular, Fauzia Islam, claimed to have remained mostly in segregation for 22 months in a room with "very little natural daylight".
Northampton South MP David Mackintosh has called on public health minister Nichola Blackwood MP to closely monitor St Andrews and make sure it follows through on the recommendations in the CQC report, following the broadcast.
He said: "I have asked the minister for public health to consider carefully this report and to see how this can be monitored to ensure all recommendations are being followed as a matter of urgency.
“I have today also written to the chief executive of St Andrew’s to seek urgent assurances that the instances of physical restraint are only used as a last resort and I have asked him to review this practice in light of the allegations made by Dispatches."
He added: “The Dispatches investigation has raised some important questions about the treatment of patients in St Andrew’s and I hope these will be looked at closely by the Government Minister, the chief executive of St Andrew’s and the coroner so patients, their families and members of staff can all be assured that the highest possible levels of care and practice are being used in St Andrew’s.”
Jan Tregelles, chief executive at Mencap, has also called for a "national" spotlight to be shone on the use of prone restraint after the airing of Dispatches last night.
She said: "Six years after the Winterbourne View scandal and countless promises made by Government to families, we still see the concerning overuse of seclusion, physical restraint and over medication suffered by people with a learning disability whilst in inpatient settings across the country.
"How much longer do families have to wait until the NHS stops sending their loved ones to these out-dated institutions? There needs to be a national spotlight on this issue.
The documentary also highlighted the use of the drug Clozapine after four patients on the same ward died in the space of seven months after being prescribed the same drug.
St Andrew’s Healthcare was given a right to respond to a number of allegations put to the hospital by Channel Four.
In a lengthy statement, a hospital spokeswoman said: "We have made clear to both Erica Starling Productions and Channel 4 that these allegations are false, misleading and / or taken wholly out of context.
"We have a duty of care which we take very seriously. An important part of this is respecting our patients’ right to confidentiality as granted to them under the Data Protection Act. Therefore we do not ever comment on current or former patients, their treatment or care with us. As you will understand, patient confidentiality is our utmost priority at all times and must not be breached regardless of circumstance.
"St Andrew’s is a highly specialised, mental healthcare charity that works with the NHS and the Criminal Justice System to provide secure care for individuals with the most complex mental health needs in the UK.
"We support the Government’s ‘Transforming Care’ programme which aims to move away from an over-reliance on in-patient care. However, there will always be times when intensive, in-patient care is the best possible treatment for those with acute mental health conditions.
"Treating patients with extremely rare, complex and challenging mental health needs requires constant vigilance, experience and clinical judgment. We welcome and encourage scrutiny and are highly regulated, with inspections undertaken in 2016 equivalent to more than one a week, by different regulators and oversight bodies.
"As a specialist hospital, we can offer greater expertise, services and treatments than will often be available locally. But for the majority of our patients, St Andrew’s is only ever intended to be a small part of their treatment journey. From the day a patient arrives, our aim is to get them well enough to leave us. As a result of the intensive, high-quality care that our specialists provide, around three-quarters of patients are discharged to more local, or less secure environments.
"The safety and wellbeing of all of our patients, as well as our medical teams, is paramount at all times in our treatment. This includes protecting patient confidentiality which cannot, and should not, ever be breached by any healthcare provider, including ourselves, and prevents us commenting on individuals and their treatment programmes."