The number of people detained under the Mental Health Act rose by 9% in the past year to 63,622, new figures have revealed. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) now plans to investigate the reasons behind this increase.
Figures from NHS Digital noted that this year’s rise follows an increase of 10% between 2013/14 and 2014/15, while figures have risen by nearly half in the past decade.
Additionally, the use of section 136 of The Act – under which people were brought to hospital as a ‘place of safety’ – increased by 18% on the previous year, to 22,965. However, this rise should be viewed in the context of the fall in the use of police cells as a place of safety over the same period, which was reported in data released earlier this year by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
At the end of March, 25,577 people were subject to The Act of whom 20,151 were detained in hospitals. There has been a continuing increase in the number of people detained in independent sector providers and in the proportion of all detained patients that they represent since NHS Digital started publishing this series of official statistics in 2006. On March 31, 5,954 people were being treated as detained patients in independent hospitals: 30% of all detained patients on that day and the highest proportion since NHS Digital began publishing this information on 31 March 2006, when 17% of detained patients were in a private hospital.
Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health) at the CQC, said: “It is concerning to see that more people are being detained under the Mental Health Act than in previous years, when there is a national commitment to reduce this number.
“The causes of the rise in the use of the Act are likely to be complex, but the increase in detentions needs to be examined carefully. We do not know, for example, the extent to which the rise is due to repeated detentions, it could signal a lack of support in the community for people with serious mental health problems or if people are being detained repeatedly, it could be a sign that some services are operating ‘revolving door’ admissions.
“To get to the bottom of this, we are launching an investigation into the reasons why detentions under the Mental Health Act in England continue to rise. We expect to publish our findings from this next year.”