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Decrepit NHS mental health wards put lives at risk

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Mental health patients are at risk of suicide because so many of the units they are treated in are dangerously decrepit, say NHS chiefs.

Crumbling old buildings are unsafe as they offer opportunities for mentally vulnerable people with conditions such as depression and schizophrenia to try to hang themselves or fall from a height, according to mental health trusts in England.

New figures show that patient safety incidents in mental health units caused by problems with staffing, facilities or the enviroment in which people are treated have risen by 8%. In all, 19,088 such incidents occurred in 2018-19 compared with 17,693 the year before.

In a stark warning, NHS Providers, which represents health trusts, categorises the risk to patient safety from “infrastructure failures in mental health trusts” as severe. “Continued under-prioritisation of the mental health estate is having a real impact on patients,” it says. “Mental health trusts continue to be neglected despite clear evidence that critical improvements are required. Mental health trust leaders are increasingly concerned that the lack of investment places their patients at increased risk.”

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Source: The Guardian, 6 October 2019

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