UK mental health review must address ‘lack of compassion’ towards patients, watchdog says

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From The Independent: “The government’s national review of mental health hospitals must urgently address the ‘lack of sympathy and compassion’ towards patients if safety is to improve, the health ombudsman has said.

Rob Berhens said the investigation, prompted by The Independent’s reporting on deaths and abuse of vulnerable patients, must look at three key issues, including a lack of empathy for those with mental health challenges, a lack of resources and poor working conditions for staff.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay announced on Wednesday that a new safety body, the Health Services Safety Investigations Body (HSIB), would look into the care of young people, examine staffing levels and scrutinise the quality of care within mental health units.

The review comes after The Independent exposed ‘systemic abuse’ of children within private mental health hospitals run by the former Huntercombe Group, with more than 50 patients speaking out about treatment spanning a decade.

Mr Berhens said: ‘I trust [HSIB] to be able to understand what are the key issues, they’re about the lack of sympathy and compassion for people who have mental health challenges, which to me is a human rights issue.

‘They’re about the issue of resources available to the mental health sector. And they’re about the working conditions that staff in those organisations have to deal with. Those are three of the biggest issues where there may be more.’”

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