Investigations into the abuse of vulnerable mental health patients in the NHS have nearly doubled in three years, according to new figures.
An analysis of NHS figures obtained by The Times through Freedom of Information requests found abuse incidents recorded by mental health trusts had risen from 106 in 2013/14 to 199 in 2015/16.
Inquiries into reports of abuse of child patients jumped from nine to 39 in a single year.
That is a 333 per cent increase in one year.
The figures from NHS England make for difficult reading. These patients are already in a vulnerable position due to their mental illness, and they do not deserve this type of treatment.
Zak Golombeck, a human rights and clinical negligence lawyer at Slater and Gordon said: “The figures from NHS England make for difficult reading. These patients are already in a vulnerable position due to their mental illness, and they do not deserve this type of treatment.
NHS England data showed more than 5,000 serious incidents had been investigated last year including over 1,000 complaints related to care, including delays, 2,170 serious incidents of self-harm, 371 suicides, 198 confidential information leaks and 199 cases of abuse. “The hospital trusts must be fully accountable for their patients, and must afford them extra protection to ensure that they remain safe at all times.”
Norman Lamb, a former Liberal Democrat health minister, told The Times that force was used in mental health treatment "far too much".
"It's just intolerable - the trusts need to be accountable," he said.
"The use of physical force is endemic in the system.
"Abuse of patients on the face of it can be characterised as gross misconduct."
Reports of serious incidents require an investigation under guidance issued by the health service regulator NHS Improvement.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "If there are serious incidents where patient safety has been put at risk we expect mental health trusts to investigate immediately to ensure this doesn't happen again.
"Serious incidents remain rare across the NHS and our guidance makes clear restraint should only be used as a last resort."