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Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:41 am on 6th July 2018.

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Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb Chair, Science and Technology Committee (Commons) 9:41 am, 6th July 2018

I speak briefly to confirm my very strong support for this Bill, to congratulate Mr Reed on pursuing it and to pay tribute to the extraordinary stoicism of Seni’s parents, Mr and Mrs Lewis. I am not sure whether they are here today, but we owe it to them that something good comes from the tragedy of the loss of their son. When I was the Minister, I published new guidance aimed at ending the use of prone restraint—the sort of restraint used on Seni Lewis—and radically reducing the use of other restraint.

Depressingly, although it may in part be due to better reporting, the data shows very little change in the overall use of force in mental health units across the country. The truth is that force is endemic in many in-patient units. However, we also know that many units have managed to reduce the use of force substantially.

On therapeutic care and recovery, we have to confront, as a country, the use of force in our mental health units and, if we do not do that, we will never achieve the ambition of facilitating recovery for people who have experienced mental ill health. Frequently, people who find themselves in mental health units have suffered abuse in their life. For a woman who has suffered abuse, restraint, with many people holding her down to the floor, is just a repeat of that abuse. Such restraint destroys trust between staff and patient and completely undermines therapeutic care.

It is possible to achieve a much greater reduction in the use of force. This Bill, particularly through the transparency and accountability it brings, will be enormously beneficial in seeking to change that culture. I strongly support the Bill for that reason.