Report highlights massive failings by mental health units

Report highlights massive failings by mental health units

By Charlotte Fantelli

It has emerged that in the last three years nearly 150 mental health patients have absconded from units in the Suffolk area alone.

Units at West Suffolk Hospital fared worst with 66 escapees between 2009-2011, this was followed by St Clement’s Hospital, Ipswich, with 55. The figures emerge Following a Freedom of Information request by the East Anglian Daily Times

Despite a fall to 35 countywide escapes in 2011, from 57 in 2009, the number still highlights the need for better care and security.

While the coverage focuses on a need for public safety, Craig Dearden-Phillips, county councillor for Bury St Edmunds, tells the EADT “There’s rarely any danger to anyone else, it’s more the health of the individual that’s escaped – they are often very vulnerable.”

Mental Healthy are concerned, as these figures once again highlight failings in a system built to protect vulnerable people. People that need hospitalization deserve to be protected and the high number of patients who abscond shows this is simply not working.

North Ipswich and Central Suffolk MP Dan Poulter said: “I think it’s an unacceptably high figure – there’s no doubt about that.”

There is reassurance from local officials, with Paula Clarke, of Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, outlining measures that have been put in place to lower the number of escapes; including the opening of a new unit at Ipswich Hospital last year, and refurbishments that are taking place at West Suffolk Hospital.

Ms Clarke says “We don’t want people absconding – unfortunately it happens on occasions and that’s why we have invested at Woodlands at Ipswich Hospital and that’s why we’re doing an upgrade in the west of the county,”

She added these figures included patients who were ‘granted leave from mental health units but who were late returning’.

If you or a relative have been affected by poor inpatient care in Suffolk, or anywhere else in the UK, Mental Healthy would like to hear from you. Please email us here.

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