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Hospital seclusion: ‘I’ve been treated like an animal’

Evidence of abusive and inappropriate treatment of vulnerable patients at a secure mental health hospital has been uncovered by BBC Panorama. One young woman was locked in a seclusion room for 17 days, was then allowed out for a day, only to be hauled back in for another 10 days.

Harley was sitting on the floor wearing pink pyjamas, with her hair tied up in neat braids, when hospital staff piled through the door one after another.

Two male nurses grabbed her by the arms.

"You're not giving me a chance to work with you," she screamed.

"Let me get up."

But it was no use. Managers at the secure mental health hospital had decided there would be - in their words - "no negotiation".

As she struggled, other nurses and support staff joined in. With her arms, legs and head restrained, she was pinned to the floor, face down.

Secret filming by BBC Panorama captured the moment the 23-year-old was forced into a seclusion room at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich, near Manchester. The hidden camera had already recorded staff justifying their actions and agreeing they would not try to reason with her this time.

Panorama's undercover reporter was told that Harley had previously been aggressive towards staff - but, this time they said she was being isolated for screaming and being verbally abusive.

Seclusion should only be used when it is of "immediate necessity" to contain behaviour that is likely to harm others, with patients locked away for the shortest time necessary, guidelines say.

England's independent healthcare regulator, the Care Quality Commission, says it should only be used in extreme cases - while the government has said the use of restrictive methods in hospitals should be reduced. But research by BBC News has found the numbers are steadily increasing.

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Source: BBC News, 28 September 2022


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