A new study carried out in England by the Healthcare Commission and the Royal College of Psychiatrists has shown that up to one in three inpatient service users have experienced violent or threatening behaviour while in care.
Threatening behaviour, which was defined as anything from raised voices to threats of violence with a weapon, seems to be infiltrating the care community with both service users and staff reporting it happening to them.
Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission, commented that: “These figures are deeply worrying. No one is saying these issues are easy to deal with. But we must do more to protect the people who use and work in our mental health services.”
It is not known how these statistics translate across the border into Wales but one Hafal service user said: “I have found it very hard being in hospital. The mixed-sex wards don’t help matters and I have felt physically threatened on more than one occasion.”
Professor Paul Lelliott, Director of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Research Unit said: “It is encouraging that, after 20 years of relative neglect, there is now recognition in all parts of the health service that something must be done.”
In response to the figures many authorities have pledged to tackle this issue and raise awareness of what is happening saying that “best practice must become standard practice”.
The report highlighted that fact that many hospitals are having to rely more and more on temporary staff due to difficulties filling vacant full-time posts, the offshoot of this being that there are less experienced members of the service team who are familiar to specific users.
Other causes highlighted in this report include poor working conditions, overcrowding and service users becoming bored because they are not being given access to structured and therapeutic care.