Hospital Care For Self-Harm Patients 'Lacking'

A New Report Has Called For An Improvement To Services Offered To Those Who Have Self-Harmed


A new report released by researchers from the University of Manchester found 40 per cent of those attending hospital after an overdose or self-injury did not get proper treatment.

Scientists from the institution looked at 6,442 people who presented at 32 hospitals with 7,689 episodes of self-harm over a three-month period and gauged the quality of care received by these vulnerable patients.

Researchers found over a third were not given a specialist psychosocial assessment, something that could lead to further mental anguish or even suicides.

Dr Jayne Cooper from the university's Centre for Suicide Prevention, which led the study, argued that "hospitals varied markedly in their management of self-harm."

"The proportion of episodes that received a psychosocial assessment in line with national guidance varied from 22 per cent in some hospitals to 88 per cent in others. Overall, we found the level of assessment had remained more or less static over the last ten years," the expert added.

However, there was some good news from the investigation and scientists concluded that care quality has improved in the last decade, despite fewer people than would be expected receiving the necessary psychosocial assessments.

But professor Nav Kapur, senior author of the study and chair of the recent self-harm guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, said he was surprised that only 60 per cent of vulnerable patients were being thoroughly checked over for the presence of long-term mental difficulties.

Professor Kapur added that it remains to be seen how recent calls for improvements in the care of suicidal patients will be handled by NHS trusts, as the Centre for Suicide Prevention's study was carried out before this was highlighted.

Some government critics have blamed supposed poor mental health care on austerity measures imposed upon the NHS.

A recent study carried out by the Samaritans charity found that the suicide rate for males across the UK is at its highest since 2002, with Scotland the worst affected nation.

Expert Opinion
“We are concerned to hear of a potential postcode lottery with regards to adequate follow-up care for mental health patients.

“These are vulnerable people who are entitled to thorough care and support, regardless of their location in the UK.

“Sadly, many of our clients echo these findings as we continue to be contacted by devastated family members who have lost a loved one to suicide and feel that more could have been done by their mental health NHS trust to protect them.

“Action must be taken to improve the support and care offered to all self-harm patients, regardless of their postcode, to protect their safety and ensure they are given the best treatment possible.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner