Major increase in use of hospital restraints for learning disability patients branded ‘really shameful’

The use of restraints on adults with learning disabilities has risen by 50% in hospitals, figures show.

Restraints in this setting were used a total of 15,065 times in England in 2016, according to data obtained by BBC Radio 4’s File On 4, rising to 22,620 in 2017.

The use of face-down or prone restraints on adults with learning disabilities also increased from 2,250 to 3,170 across this period, the figures from NHS Digital show.

The Government and NHS have said restraint should only ever be used as a last resort.

Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb (pictured), a former health minister who introduced guidelines to reduce the use of force in hospitals in 2014, told the programme: “The bottom line is that I had wanted to see and expected to see a substantial decline in the use of restraint and that hasn’t happened.

“I think that’s really shameful when we know that it’s possible in very many cases to avoid the use of restraint at all through a more sophisticated approach to people in inpatient settings.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “People with learning disabilities and autism deserve the best support and care.

“We are clear that any kind of restraint should only be used as a last resort and we are working to reduce restrictive interventions and improve patient safety through improved monitoring and training.”

Full comparative data for 2018 is not yet available.

File On 4: Transforming Care – Is it Working? will air on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday October 2 at 8pm.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Lauren Hurley / PA Wire.