Sheffield NHS teams eliminate controversial face down restraints on mental health patients

Staff show how the restraining method works. Picture: BBC
Staff show how the restraining method works. Picture: BBC
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NHS teams in Sheffield are said to be leading the way by eliminating a highly-controversial technique used to restrain mental health patients.

The method is often used to restrain a patient with challenging behaviour - two members of staff lock their arms and legs before pinning them face-down to the floor.

Campaigners have long called for the practice to be banned which is said to increase distress and cause injury to patients on wards.

But new figures from NHS Benchmarking show Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust haven't used this restraining technique for 18 months.

The statistics show NHS mental health teams in Sheffield have the lowest figure across the UK.

In 2012, the Trust began a new training programme called RESPECT which is designed to de-escalate the chances of physical interventions.

Dr Mike Hunter, executive medical director at the Trust, said: “We strive to provide high quality, safe care to our service users in an environment and culture which supports their needs and reduces to a minimum the need for restrictive interventions.

“Our RESPECT Training is co-produced and delivered by a team of very dedicated service users. By sharing their personal experience of receiving of restraint they help us to ensure that our staff are delivering care in an environment which feels safe and supportive for service users and which also safeguards the wellbeing of staff.

“In addition to the RESPECT Training, we have increased access to meaningful activities for service users on our in-patient wards, including the introduction of new physical activity groups such as cycling and football which improve service users’ mental and physical wellbeing.”

Kevan Taylor, Chief Executive, said: “Our approach has been directly informed by our discussions with a group of African-Caribbean service users calling themselves the ‘MAAT Probe Group’ who raised concerns regarding the traditional response to disturbed behaviour. I am delighted that by working together the hard work of our staff and service users has managed to eliminate the use of face down restraint Trustwide.

“We are committed to further improvements in how we support service users’ needs in a way that reduces the use of restrictive interventions of all kinds. Our service users are working closely with us to help drive this work forward.”