Patient restraints double in South Yorkshire hospitals

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THE number of restraining orders approved for patients in South Yorkshire hospitals and care homes has more than doubled since new rules came in three years ago, NHS figures reveal.

Health workers were given permission to sedate, strap or lock up patients 232 times in 2011/12, up from 106 in 2009/10 - the year the orders were introduced.

Staff have to apply to use the orders, called Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, if they have to restrain someone who might otherwise hurt themselves or wander off.

New figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show 120 - more than half - of those restrained using the orders last year had dementia, 29 had learning disabilities and 27 had other mental health problems.

There were 56 with physical disabilities, including three who were blind and two who were deaf.

NHS and council bosses rejected a further 147 applications.

The rules were introduced to protect adults suffering from a mental disorder, but who had not been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

But a senior South Yorkshire mental health worker told The Star working through the legalities was ‘a complete headache’.

Richard Tucker, a social worker who trains people in mental health legislation in Rotherham and Doncaster, said the numbers were rising because staff did not know about the new rules.

He said: “Nobody really knows what a ‘deprivation of liberty’ is - that’s the problem.

“Where does a ‘restriction’ of liberty end and a ‘deprivation’ begin?

“It could be keeping someone against their will, in a place they need to be.

“They could have dementia, for example, and be in hospital for a broken bone but not realise why they are there.

“There is also the interaction with the Mental Health Act, which is a different set of rules. It is extremely complcatated and is a complete headache to worth through.”

The South Yorkshire increase is broadly in line with the national picture.

A spokesman for Sheffield Council said: “We work very hard to avoid deprivations of liberty by looking at ways to lower the levels of restrictions. The safeguards ensure a good standard of care for the most vulnerable.”