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Human rights of mental health patients violated amid crisis in care, regulator warns

The human rights of vulnerable mental health patients are being violated because of the crisis in care, a regulator has warned.

Rob Behrens, the health service ombudsman for England, said urgent action was needed over repeated “tragedies” in NHS mental health services.

His warning comes as the latest NHS figures show there were 9,839 incidents of abuse against mental health patients from April 2021 to March this year – a higher figure than in any other sector.

It follows an investigation by The Independent last month that revealed allegations of systemic abuse of children within a group of private mental health hospitals run by a provider called The Huntercombe Group.

Mr Behrens said research carried out by his office showed that vulnerable people being detained in hospitals are “losing their human rights when they were put in difficult situations where they had no control”.

Mr Behrens told The Independent: “We can’t go on with leaders in the NHS and politicians saying ‘This cannot go on’, because it happens time and time again. It’s the amount of resource and commitment that is put into dealing with issues, which ultimately is going to turn this around".

When asked if mental health is a particular area of concern, Mr Behrens said: “Yes. It’s about human rights. It’s about vulnerable people exposing themselves to the arm of the state in a way where they have very little control, and where there needs to be accountability and scrutiny. That’s exactly where an ombudsman should be looking, to make sure that people without power are not being traduced by the system.”

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Source: The Independent, 28 November 2022


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