Whistleblower Reveals Patients Restrained 'Without Permission'

People Were Locked In Their Rooms For Hours At A Time, A Whistleblower Claims


A hospital in the West Midlands may have broken rules on restraining patients, according to a whistleblower.

John Marchant, who was previously the head of security at the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told the Daily Telegraph that older people were regularly confined to their beds via restraints, even though they posed no threat to patients or staff.

Mr Marchant wants a change in culture throughout the NHS and believes part of this must involve nurses and doctors becoming more educated about the illegality of certain security measures.

One specific case brought to the attention of Mr Marchant caused him particular concern.

A child patient on a paediatric ward was, according to nurses, becoming physically aggressive and health staff asked for him to be restrained. In this particular instance, Mr Marchant's security team refused to take action because of the potential moral and legal ramifications involved.

The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust acknowledges that its security team has made a number of complaints about the way patients have been restrained in recent years, but denies that staff asked for unlawful practices to be put in place.

Paula Clark, chief executive of the West Midlands trust, said: "We emphatically refute the suggestion that we have ever unlawfully restrained patients... the health and well being of our patients is our absolute priority and we always act in the best interests of our patients."

Despite this denial, the Department of Health told the Daily Telegraph it has asked the Care Quality Commission to investigate Mr Marchant's claims. A report into the case will be released later this year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "We are absolutely clear that physical restraint should only ever be used as a last resort and it should be used for the shortest time possible."

The issue of legal restraining methods became a big issue in 2013, after a number of deaths in custody were blamed on poor training and technique among security guards.

Expert Opinion
The reports on this issue are obviously very concerning, so it is welcoming to see that the CQC has launched an investigation, which will undoubtedly provide important answers and clarity as to what exactly happened at the NHS Trust.

"Such reports will concern both patients and their families, so many people will be seeking reassurances regarding patient safety. It is vital that everything possible is done to provide these and also ensure, where possible, that lessons can be learned.

"As mentioned by the Department of Health, restraints should only be used in the most extreme circumstances when the safety of a patient or others may be potentially at risk."
Lisa Jordan, Partner