July has been a big month in the world of mental healthcare. As the world becomes more aware of mental health and what its implications are, it is becoming clear that we are not meeting the current needs of those that are suffering from mental health issues. The topic is cropping up more and more across mainstream news, social media sites, and even in the workplace, as it becomes a more talked about subject.
In this month’s industry roundup, Pensher Skytech looks at the rise of mental health units not meeting safety requirements, as well as the number of patients absconding from mental health facilities increasing as well. These disappointing figures have been blamed on budget cuts, lack of funding, and lack of staff. We will also be looking at the number of NHS Trusts that are failing fire safety checks in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy.
However, on a more positive note, Scotland has announced plans to build its first secure mental health unit for young people, which is expected to significantly help those in the country, as they currently do not have any facilities to meet those needs.
We hope you enjoy this month’s industry roundup. Join us again at the beginning of September where we will be looking at the biggest stories in mental health from August.
According to a recent report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), 40% of NHS mental health facilities are being deemed as ‘unsafe’.
After inspecting every single mental health provider in England, the report found that there were numerous troublesome areas across NHS mental health services, such as insufficient staff, out-of-date wards, and areas with ligature risks, that compromised safety. CQC claimed that many of the places they inspected had ‘no place’ in modern healthcare, and were more like asylum-like units.
The biggest concern that came out of the report was the lack of safety, with 40% of NHS services and 39% of psychiatric units being classed as either ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ when it came to safety.
However, the report did find that services in mental health facilities performed very strongly on how ‘caring they were, with 96% of NHS and 98% of private institutions, classed as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding.’
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s mental health chief, added: “We have already made huge steps forward – overall mental health funding is up by £1.4billion in real terms and 120,000 more people are getting specialist treatment than three years ago.
“We know there is more work to do – this is why we have a five-year plan in place to ensure that transformation is under way.”
Details for Scotland’s first National Secure and Forensic Inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service have been unveiled.
The NHS Ayrshire and Arran board have approved of the £4.5m unit which will enable young people to be treated closer to home, and are now finalising a bid for funding.
Scotland current does not have a secure inpatient unit for children and teenagers who present a high forensic risk. The new unit is expected to accommodate patients of both sexes up to the age of 19 with complex psychiatric illnesses deemed too high risk to be treated in the community.
It has long been a complaint in Scotland that there is no suitable accommodation for seriously ill adolescents, some of whom are as young as 14. They are currently being situated in unsuitable adult psychiatric wards, paediatric wards, or even in secure hospitals in England, miles from home and family.
A spokeswoman for NHS Ayrshire and Arran said: “The challenges and complexities of working with these young people require a level of expertise that is, unfortunately, not widely available in the UK.
“The aim is to treat these young people within Scotland and return them to their own community services following therapeutic intervention.”
Security within mental health units is under scrutiny after it is discovered that there has been a 64% increase in patients escaping over the past three years.
A Freedom of Information report from 19 mental health trusts shows that there had been a rise in the number of patients disappearing from units or failing to return from authorised leave. Figures show that the number of these incidents had soared by 38%, from 2,438 incidents in 2014 to 3,139 in 2016.
These results have come amidst cuts to mental health budgets, where funding was cut by approximately 8% during 2011-2015. The lack of funding and staff shortages have been largely to blame for these poor results.
Chief executive of mental health charity, SANE, Marjorie Wallace said she was not surprised by the figures, which come against a backdrop of nursing shortages.
She told the paper: “We hear reports almost constantly of appalling conditions on wards.
“People report that wards are overcrowded and often rife with aggression, fear, and illegal drugs, with too few, and often-demoralised, staff.
“Unless the Government creates or re-opens psychiatric units and, most importantly, fills the vacancies in psychiatric nursing, then the numbers wanting to abscond will continue to increase. Patients will become lost within the system.”
In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, all NHS trusts and foundation trusts have been carrying out urgent fire safety checks, with results finding that some have failed these tests.
Fire chiefs are warning that up to 38 hospital facilities could contain flammable materials as dangerous as Grenfell Tower.
Nine have already been identified as being at greatest risk. At least five so far have failed fire tests, and are having their cladding removed, whilst others are still waiting to hear back from the results.
Some of the trusts that are at risk have already employed additional fire warden patrols that are working 24-hours just in case. The NHS Improvement is also working hard and taking urgent steps to ensure that their facilities are in line with the most current guidance and are fully safe against the threat of fire.
A spokeswoman for NHS Improvement said: “Patient safety is paramount. There will be no disruptions to patient services or continuity of care.”
We hope you enjoyed this month’s mental healthcare industry roundup. Join us again at the beginning of September where will be looking at the biggest news stories from the industry. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn for daily updates on mental health, security, and asset protection.