We respond to announcement of rapid review into mental health inpatient safety

23 January 2023

Following recent exposes into patient safety in mental health unit, the government has announced a rapid review into safety in inpatient mental health units. Here is our response.

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness

“We welcome the announcement of this rapid review into safety in inpatient mental health services. The harrowing cases reported recently, combined with the dedicated campaigning by families who tragically lost loved ones that they expected to be safe and cared for in hospital, highlights the gravity of the situation and the urgency with which standards must improve. The review must take a detailed look at the quality of care that people receive when they’re seriously unwell and ensure that units take decisive action when failures or mistakes occur, so that lessons can be learned to improve patient safety. We specifically welcome the speed with which this review will take place, given many of the current concerns and issues are well acknowledged across the sector.

“We understand that the environment in mental health units can be very challenging for staff, but evidence shows that giving people more involvement in decision-making about their own care can help to reduce risk and the likelihood of serious incidents. Increased support from the voluntary sector, including independent advocates, has the potential to encourage greater involvement of people that use mental health services and their families to improve their experience of care in inpatient units.

“We are particularly pleased that Dr Geraldine Strathdee has been chosen to lead the review. Her high level of clinical and patient experience means she recognises the urgent need to improve patient safety. Ultimately, this review can only succeed if staff and leadership teams engage and people with relevant lived experience and their families are given the opportunity to contribute. We hope this review is a landmark moment that leads to a significant improvement in the quality of care people receive, so they are kept safe, treated with dignity and have improved prospects of recovery. We are also mindful that reform of the Mental Health Act represents a great source of hope for improving patient safety and urge the government to rapidly bring forward proposed legislation.”