Sectioned Patients Scale Fence To Escape Mental Health Unit

Psychiatric patients are climbing over a security fence to leave an NHS mental health unit, it was claimed today. A television documentary filmed patients scaling the 20ft-high fence at the Royal South Hants Hospital, Southampton, on five different days.

The Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust admitted 26 patients have climbed the fence in the past four years and one woman said her son has absconded more than 50 times in a couple of months.

Chris Packham, presenter of BBC South’s Inside Out programme, said he was shocked at how easy it was for patients to abscond from the Department of Psychiatry.

“Many of the patients have been sectioned because they are a danger to themselves or others,” he said.

“But they were climbing out in full view of the hospital and the CCTV cameras, and nobody made any effort to stop them.”

The mother of a patient, who has not been identified, said: “My son is very low, I don’t know if he’s headed to the nearest bridge to jump.”

Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust chief executive Martin Barkley pledged to improve security and said work would start soon to make the fence harder to climb.