MENTAL health charities have sharply criticised the failure to ensure psychiatric patients in Yorkshire were lawfully detained and said it was vital NHS trusts could be held accountable for restricting a person’s liberty.
So far the records of 25 psychiatric patients under the care Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) have been found to be “fundamentally defective or unsafe” with an ongoing audit expected to find further failures.
Sophie Corlett, Director of External Affairs at Mind, said: “Detention is a fundamental removal of people’s freedom, so it is a significant decision and must follow the proper processes.
“As part of this process, it is important to make sure the paperwork is right, to demonstrate the decision was thought about thoroughly, correctly recorded and that there was an opportunity to challenge the decision.
“There are no excuses for not doing this properly when this is a decision which can have such a massive impact on someone’s life.”
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive at mental health charity SANE, added: “It is always a profound matter to deprive someone of their liberty and the least that can be expected is that such action should be taken very seriously and comply with the law.”
The discovery of potentially unlawful detentions places another significant question mark against the standards of care provided to vulnerable people following the sudden closure of Bootham Park psychiatric hospital in York last September.
LYPFT director of nursing Anthony Deery said: “We have been in close contact with all the patients affected by this issue and all of them have received an apology from the Trust.
“We conducted assessments of all the affected patients and found most needed to be re-admitted or they agreed to remain informally as this was in their best interests.
“We are clearly very sorry for this situation and we have already started putting measures in place to ensure it does not happen again.
“These measures include employing more staff to support our management of mental health legislation, an increase in training provision and making better use of our clinical information system.
He added: “It is important to say that most of the problems we have uncovered relate to the way in which we manage the raft of documentation required when detaining patients under the Mental Health Act.
“Whilst this does not excuse our failings, I want to give a reassurance that when we do detain people our staff take this very seriously. All the relevant professionals work closely with patients and their families when making such a serious decision. We always aim to act in the best interests of the patient who may be at risk of harming themselves or others.”
On Wednesday, a petition containing more than 8,000 signatures was handed in to 10 Downing Street calling for the reopening of Bootham Park Hospital.
York Central MP Rachael Maskell was joined by York mental health campaigners and shadow Health Minister Luciana Berger at the petition handover following last year’s controversial closure when the Care Quality Commission deemed the hospital’s antiquated and rundown condition meant patients were at “significant risk of harm”.
Law firm Irwin Mitchell has been instructed by former patients to challenge the closure which may result in a judicial review at the High Court.
Ms Maskell has called on the Government to build a new mental health facility on the Bootham Park site.