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Paediatric wards may not be safe for patients with 'high-risk' behaviours

Children presenting with 'high-risk' behaviours are being cared for in NHS paediatric wards that may put them and others at risk of harm, according to a new report from the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB). HSIB's interim report warns that the placement of children and young people with complex mental health issues on NHS paediatric wards can impact on the wellbeing of these patients and their families, and pose a risk to other patients and staff.  

The report emphasises that paediatric wards are designed to care for patients who only have physical health needs and not for those who are exhibiting high-risk behaviours, which include attempts to die by suicide, self-harm, attempts to leave the hospital without permission, and episodes of violence and aggression.

Examples of children and young people being restrained or sedated in front of other sick and vulnerable patients, families feeling concerned for their and their children's safety during incidents, rooms being stripped down to remove any risk of self-harm or death by suicide, and paediatric staff being physically assaulted are cited in the report.

 Saskia Fursland, HSIB national Investigator, said,"We know that NHS staff are trying to provide a safe environment for their patients, but they are facing difficult choices in wards that are not designed to support children and young people displaying high-risk behaviours. Our ongoing investigation will take a longer-term look at effective design, adaptations and risk management in the wards. A whole system response is now needed to ensure we can keep children and young people safe."

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Source: Medscape, 25 May 2023


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