A snapshot analysis of 32 hospitals over a period of three months found a significant variance in the care provided for people who have self-harmed, despite a national drive to better services.
The research revealed that over two-thirds of patients did not receive a specialist psychological assessment after self-harming.
Author of the study, Prof Nav Kapur is also a chairman of the recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for treating self-harm and has said the following,
“We were surprised to find that despite national guidelines and policy initiatives, the management of self-harm in English hospitals is as variable as ever. This is important because the treatment patients get in hospital affects their outcome.”
Researchers looked at a total of 7,689 episodes of self-harm recorded in 32 hospitals between 2010 and 2011. The English hospitals were shown to vary in their management of self-harm. The proportion of self-harming episodes that did receive a psychological assessment varied from 88% in some of the hospitals to 22% in others.
It is estimated that one in 12 people in the UK have self-harmed in some way during their lives. Types of self-harm include self-injury (such as cutting, burning and hair pulling) and self-poisoning (i.e. ingesting harmful substances).
A spokesman for the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network has commented, saying there is no excuse for inaction and that while variability is a complex matter, it should never be acceptable.