Patients Held In UK ‘Asylums’ Over 21 Years

At least 435 patients were held in locked rehabilitation wards last year, up from 404 in 2015.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 – Hundreds of mentally ill people are kept in “old-style asylums” in the United Kingdom’s NHS hospitals, with one locked up for over two decades.

The Guardian reported that at least 435 patients were held in locked rehabilitation wards last year, up from 404 in 2015.

One patient at Birmingham and Solihull mental health NHS foundation trust reportedly spent more than 21 years in one of the wards, while the average stay in a locked unit at Sussex Partnership NHS foundation trust was almost two years.

A locked rehabilitation ward, according to the Guardian, typically means that patients cannot leave as and when they wish. These were reportedly used about a decade ago, mainly provided by the private sector to treat high-risk patients, such as those suffering from psychosis.

“They are like old-style asylums that have no place in modern Britain. What we are doing is a fundamental breach of people’s human rights,” Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb was quoted saying.

“It is a complete contradiction in terms: locked rehabilitation ward. Their [the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC)] conclusion was that many people in these wards don’t need to be there. That means that there are lots of people who are capable of living independent lives with support who are locked up.”

A 2017 CQC report found that over 3,500 patients in 248 mental health wards were detained, most of them in private mental health hospitals, and expressed concern that locked rehabilitation risked institutionalising patients.

An NHS England spokesperson was quoted saying: “As the CQC make clear, ‘inpatient’ rehabilitation wards are a key part of good mental healthcare and while no one should stay any longer than necessary, in a tiny number of cases, it might remain the safest and most appropriate treatment setting for both the individual patient and wider community.”

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