Publication date: 17 Dec, 2020
The Commission also sought to understand which forms of detention were used and how well each detention adhered to the law and best practice, and to do so both nationally and by health board.
The report also records numbers of detained patients who died during this period compared to previous years, and whether there were any deaths linked to Covid-19.
Dr Arun Chopra, medical director, Mental Welfare Commission, said:
“Our analysis of rates of detention is mostly reassuring. We found a rise in detentions of people for care and treatment, but this was in line with rises over recent years. This differs at the health board level, and we found that in some health board areas, there was a notable rise in the numbers of people being detained for the first time during the time period.
“The lack of involvement of a mental health officer (MHO) in emergency detentions was even more apparent than usual. Fewer than half of emergency detentions involved a mental health officer; a specialist social worker who should be involved each time a patient is detained. The mental health officer safeguard is vital, as it allows for a different professional group to take part in the decision making process at point of detention. We continue to raise our concerns about this.
“We will also work with the Scott review of the Mental Health Act team to discuss how to open up the debate about strengthening the mechanisms for this safeguard. In the Commission’s view, the law is not working as was intended when the Act was passed.
“We found a rise in deaths of people in detention at this time, with eight deaths attributed to Covid-19.
“We recognise that while this report presents data at a population level, every incident relates to a person. Further work is underway in the Commission on deaths of people who have been detained for mental health care and treatment.
“We will also continue to monitor and report on the number of detentions and activity in later phases of the pandemic.”
There are two ways in which detentions can take place. Short term detention certificates, which last up to 28 days, are the usual route into hospital care under the law as there are more safeguards.
Emergency detention certificates, which allow for a person to be held in hospital for up to 72 hours while their condition is assessed, are used only in emergencies.