Mental health trusts restraining patients 'every 10 minutes'

Mental health trusts in England are restraining patients on average every 10 minutes, an investigation by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.


  • Figures from 40 mental health trusts in England revealed patients were restrained 59,808 times in 2016-17, up 26% from 46,499 times in 2013-14
  • The analysis also shows there were 554 injuries to patients and 1847 injuries to staff caused by restraint in 2016-17
  • 150 complaints were made to trusts about the use of restraint in 2016-17, up from 100 in 2013-14
  • However, use of face-down restraint, where patients are forced to the ground has fallen to 9,695

Tom Brake MP, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton & Wallington, commented:

"Heavy use of physical restraint is an outdated practice that has no place in our health service. It is deeply distressing to patients at a time when they should feel safe and cared for.

"Some inspiring units have demonstrated how you can very significantly reduce the use of force, training staff in de-escalation. This can avoid situations which lead to stress and conflict.

"This needs to be given much greater priority by the Government."

Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the mental health charity Mind, commented:

“Physical restraint can be humiliating, terrifying, dangerous and even life-threatening.

"Prone restraint, when a person is pinned face-down on the floor, can be particularly dangerous.

"This doesn’t have to happen.

"If mental health settings are safe and therapeutic, with enough well-trained staff, we can significantly reduce the need for restraint and other restrictive practices."

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