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Suicide Attempts On NHS Wards Rise

795 Reported Suicide Attempts in 2013


There has been a large rise in the number of patients attempting to take their own lives on NHS wards.

According to statistics from a Labour party freedom of information request, there were an average of 795 suicide attempts or self-harm cases at each mental health trust in 2013.

This was a rise of over 150 from 2012, when only 619 cases were recorded at each Trust. 

Overall, since 2010, there has been a 56 per cent rise in suicide attempts - something that has drawn criticism from opposition politicians.

Luciana Berger, shadow public health minister for Labour, said that mental health services have seen a significant decrease in funding in recent years - something she described as "intolerable".

However, Professor Sir Simon Wessely, the new president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told The Guardian that the increase was likely to be down to better reporting since the Francis Inquiry in early 2013.

The report, which provided an extensive overview of failures at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust recommended organisations be more transparent and open when communicating errors, mistakes or poor performance.

Last month, a medical magazine published a survey highlighting the concerns of doctors about "overstretched" mental health services.

In total, 82 per cent of the 500 GPs surveyed by Pulse said they have serious concerns about their local community mental health trusts' ability to cope with heightening demand.

Further to this, a fifth of patients said a patient had come to harm because of their inability to secure appropriate mental healthcare.

Referencing the report, Geoff Heyes, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said: "It's unacceptable but not surprising that one-in-five GPs say they have seen patients come to harm because of delays to, or a lack of, mental health services. People with mental health problems can recover, but early intervention is vital."

Expert Opinion
These latest statistics are deeply concerning and it vital that any changes made to the health service do not affect patient safety.

“All patients deserve to have access to the best possible standard of care and this is something that hospitals and other care facilities cannot ignore. Tragically, we see numerous cases in which people have suffered injuries or died as a result of not being given timely mental health treatment and support. This absolutely has to change.

“The ultimate aim of the NHS and the Government must be to ensure that the voices of vulnerable members of society are always heard.”
Luke Daniels, Partner

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