The UK’s largest mental health charity has published previously unseen data laying bare the full scale of the emergency in mental healthcare, with staff reporting 17,340 serious incidents in 12 months.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) figures shows mental healthcare staff across England reported an incident two times every hour in the last year, where people are treated for issues including self-harm, eating disorders and psychosis.
- injuries to patients that caused likely long term sensory, movement or brain damage, or physically damaged their body
- prolonged physical pain or psychological harm, or shortened life expectancy
- cases of abuse, including those involving the police
- injuries for which the patient needed treatment to prevent them dying
- Full list of incidents can be found here
The 17,340 serious incidents were reported in hospital, community and residential mental healthcare settings between the beginning of April last year and the same time this year.
- 15,254 reported incidents related to care in private community and hospital settings
- 2,086 related to NHS community and residential places of care
- Across all settings, the highest number of reported incidents were in the North West of England (2,666), followed closely by the East Midlands (2,657).
- A full breakdown of the number of incidents by region and type of provider can be found here.
Many NHS patients receive care in private settings because of pressures on capacity. According to NHS data, approximately 17 per cent of people of all ages who were in contact with secondary mental health services between 2021 and 2022 were seen by a non-NHS provider.[i]
All of these incidents involved care providers raising concerns with the CQC under their statutory duty under Regulation 18.
The previously unpublished data follows a string of abuse scandals in mental health hospitals.
Recent cases include:
- The Priory Hospital Cheadle Royal near Stockport, in the North West, where Beth Matthews, 26, Lauren Bridges, 20, and Deseree Fitzpatrick, 30, all died between January and March last year.
- The North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT), where a coroner found that found that a series of failures in care led to the death of 12-year-old Allison Aules last July.
- The Priory Arnold, in the East Midlands, where a patient died last December after managing to leave the hospital and another incident this January, in which a patient was injured after getting on to its roof.
- Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, where undercover journalists filmed staff using restraint inappropriately and swearing at and slapping patients at the Edenfield Centre in Prestwich last year.
Responding to the data, Dr Sarah Hughes, the Chief Executive of Mind, said: “It is deeply worrying that healthcare staff across the country are so concerned about the situation in mental health settings that they are reporting a serious incident once every half an hour. We knew this was a crisis – now we know the scale of this crisis. People seek mental healthcare to get well, not to endure harm. Families are being let down by a system that’s supposed to protect their loved ones when they are most sick. The consequences can be and have been fatal.
“Too many people are bearing the brunt of the crisis in mental health services, including those who are powerless within the system because they are detained for treatment. It is clear these failings are systemic. But it does not have to be this way – good mental health hospitals do exist, and people can be given a say in their treatment but proper care must be available across the board.
“It is time to raise the standard. The UK government has the chance to act by passing the Mental Health Bill before the next General Election and prioritising mental health in their political choices and funding decisions. Politicians must not stand by and allow one more person to go through this suffering. They owe it to every family that is picking up the pieces of a broken system.”
Earlier this year, Mind revealed the public’s loss of confidence in mental healthcare, with YouGov polling showing more than 1 in 3 British adults (35 per cent) said they don’t have confidence that a loved one would be safe if they needed hospital mental healthcare.
A third also said they are not confident that a mental health hospital would treat their loved one with respect (32 per cent) or compassion (34 per cent).[ii]
[i] Mental Health Bulletin, 2021-22 Annual report. Of 97,160 people of all ages who were in contact with NHS funded secondary mental health, learning disability and autism services and admitted in 21/22, 16,841 were admitted to non-NHS provider.
[ii] Figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,014 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 7th – 8th June 2023. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
- We’re Mind, the mental health charity. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. org.uk
- Mind has a confidential information and support line, Mind Infoline, available on 0300 123 3393 (lines open 9am – 6pm, Monday – Friday)
- The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is affecting many people’s mental health. For more information on managing money and your mental health, see our advice at https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/money-and-mental-health/
- Our online mental health community Side by Side is a safe space where anyone aged 18 and over with experience of a mental health problem can share their story, connect with others, access Mind’s wider information and resources, and give support in return. Find out more at sidebyside.mind.org.uk
- Mind provides training and consultancy to workplaces to help them feel confident in talking about mental health. We also offer free resources for employers and staff to help improve mental wellbeing. For more information, visit org.uk/workplace or contact email@example.com