A recent examination into the amount of compulsory detentions in England has revealed a shocking increase, despite changes to mental health laws in 2007. The Health Select Committee has found evidence that some patients are being sectioned unnecessarily in order to secure hospital treatment.
The Committee has also warned that the safeguards put in place to protect those who lack capacity are often being ignored. Mental health charity Rethink has described the findings as ‘shocking’.
The changes to the law in 2007 aimed to help patients who were previously detained in hospital be treated in their local community instead. The recent findings have found that despite this legislation, compulsory detention has increased considerably from 42,208 in 2008-09 to 44,894 in 2011-12.
MPs have been told that due to many wards being over capacity, it can be hard for those dealing with mental health issues to admit themselves voluntarily. One witness was even quoted saying “being detained is the ticket to getting a bed”.
The report stated that this behaviour, when compulsory detention is used when not clinically necessary, was a ‘serious violation’ of civil rights.
An urgent investigation by the Department of Health has been called for, to establish how prevalent the practice is. An urgent review of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) and an action plan for improvement has also been demanded.
Paul Jenkins from Rethink said:
“It’s absolutely shocking that people are being sectioned unnecessarily, just so they can get access to the treatment they are entitled to. Being sectioned, although sometimes necessary, can be extremely distressing and should only be used as a last resort.”
If you want to learn more about mental health in the UK, please see our Facts and Figures section for statistical information.
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