Mental health inpatient wards experience high levels of violence, according to the largest ever review of the service in the UK.
About 45% of nurses and 15% of patients said they had been assaulted last year, prompting concern from the Healthcare Commission.
Overcrowding was highlighted as a major part of the problem in the commission’s comprehensive review.
While guidelines recommend bed occupancy levels of 85%, one in 10 trusts had rates of more than 100% – with one reaching 106%.
This problem was particularly acute in urban areas, and most of the 11 trusts rated “weak” were in such areas.
The trusts with the lowest ratings accounted for 23% of the 10,000 mental health inpatient beds in the UK, and those that rated “excellent” just 9%.
The review was carried out amid concerns that too much emphasis had been placed on community care, while inpatient services had been overshadowed.
Head of mental health for the commission Anthony Deery said: “It’s not a case of sitting down with the GP and saying ‘Where shall I have my treatment?’.
“They need to access their local services and it’s really important that the standards in those local services are of a high quality. It’s the only area in healthcare where you can have your liberty taken away.”
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