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Mental health patients held ‘unlawfully’ in A&Es across the country, experts warn

Mental health patients are being held “unlawfully” in A&Es across the country as long waits for care and beds force staff into “fudging” the law, The Independent has been told.

The University Hospital of North Midland Trust has been sanctioned by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for holding mental health patients without any legal authority.

However, experts have told The Independent the problem is widespread and occurs across every emergency department in the country with some patients waiting “days” and even “weeks” in A&E.

Leaders at Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust have raised repeated concerns in recent months over patients waiting days in their A&E for mental health care.

The CQC raised concerns about the assessment of mental health patients at UHNM following an inspection in October and served the trust with a warning notice.

In a letter seen by The Independent, the CQC said two patients were “restricted within hospital unlawfully”. It said although staff were working in the patient’s best interests in both cases it was clear that legal procedures “were not being followed”.

“Therefore, this can be seen as a significant infringement of any personal or welfare,” it said.

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Source: The Independent. 8 November 2022


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