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Scotland's adult acute mental health wards - improvements in care, but patients express fear over safety

11 April 2017

The Mental Welfare Commission today published a report on its visits to all adult mental health admission wards across Scotland.

The report includes positive and negative findings. It shows a welcome shift to care that is focused on recovery, and a general improvement in the physical environment.

But the Commission also found that almost one in five patients spoken to reported feeling unsafe, particularly at night, and one in four women expressed concerns about being on a mixed sex ward.

There were more peer support workers - people who have themselves experienced mental ill health - than on previous visits, but more needs to be done to promote awareness of their role.

Fewer than half of patients spoken to said they had the opportunity to exercise, yet many wards said they had access to a gym or other exercise options.

Alison Thomson, Executive Director (Nursing) at the Commission said:

"Since our last visit in 2012, we found that progress had been made in some areas, and we welcome that, but the picture across Scotland was inconsistent. There were differences in the ways wards recorded delayed discharges. There was a mixed understanding of patients rights' amongst staff and patients, and the quality of care plans was inconsistent.

"While plans need to be improved, we were glad to see a move towards recovery-based care, which we very much welcome.

"People in mental health admission wards are often at their most vulnerable, and it was concerning to hear patients tell us they were worried about their own safety, particularly at night. This was a particular issue for women on mixed wards."

The Commission has made a series of recommendations for NHS Boards, and set out the actions it will now take. A copy of the full report is available here.

Notes to editors

The Commission visited all 47 adult acute mental health admission wards across Scotland in late 2016.

The Commission's previous such visit took place in 2012, when the key issues were very poor physical environments on many wards; patients feeling they had a lack of understanding or involvement in their care and treatment, and not enough therapeutic activity on offer.

Mary Mowat: 0131 313 8786