Mental Patients

Department of Health written question – answered on 23rd June 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many patients with serious mental illnesses absconded from care in (1) 2009–10, (2) 2010–11, (3) 2011–12, (4) 2012–13, and (5) 2013–14.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the risk to the public from the increase in the number of seriously mentally ill patients who have absconded from care since 2009–10.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the cut in mental health in-patient beds on the number of patients with serious mental illnesses who have absconded from care.

Photo of Lord Prior of Brampton Lord Prior of Brampton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health

The information is not held in the format requested. Mental health providers have been required to notify the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of patients who have been absent without leave. The following table shows the number of notifications of patients absent without leave since 2010-11 and 2012-13, latest data available.

Notifications of absence without leave from 2010-11 to 2012-13

Year

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

Notifications

4183

4896

3923

Source: Care Quality Commission

Since 1 April 2010, providers have been required to notify the CQC of any inpatients who are absent without leave, which is defined by certain parameters. For the first three years of this data collection, providers were required to notify the CQC of all patients absent without leave whose absence records were still open at midnight on the day the absence began. Incidences of absences at any time from high security hospitals, and the return of persons from unauthorised absences had to be recorded also.

Between 2010-11 to 2012-13, all mental health providers were required to notify the CQC of patients who were absent without leave.

Since 1 April 2013, only mental health providers with a designated level of security of high, medium or low are required to notify the CQC of patients who are absent without leave. In 2013-14 there were 909 notifications of absence without leave from services designated as low, medium or high security.

There has been no assessment of the risk to the public of patients absent without leave. Instances of mental health patients absent without leave causing harm to the public are rare. We would expect mental health providers to work with their commissioners, other partners and the authorities if a patient reported as absent without leave poses a significant risk to the public.

There has been no assessment of the impact of availability of mental health beds on the numbers of patients reported as absent without leave. Commissioners and mental health providers work together to ensure the availability of inpatient beds for people who require them based on need.

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