NHS mental health staff have used a potentially deadly restraint technique on patients with autism and other learning difficulties more than 6,500 times in the past three years.
Official figures reveal that the ‘prone restraint’ – which involves holding a person face-down on the floor – was used 6,625 times between 2016 and last year.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines say ‘taking service users to the floor during manual restraint should be avoided, but that if it is necessary, the supine (face up) position should be used in preference to the prone (face down) position… This position can, and has, caused death’.
Shock findings: Potentially deadly restraint has been used 6,500 times in the space of three years
The figures were obtained by Labour MP Anneliese Dodds, who is investigating Assessment and Treatment Units (ATUs).
The Mail on Sunday has revealed how hundreds of autistic people are being locked up in ATUs – some for years. Our campaign has triggered five official investigations.
Ms Dodds raised the issue after being contacted by Sara Ryan, whose 18-year-old son Connor died in an ATU in 2013.
Investigation: Labour MP Anneliese Dodds uncovered the findings as she probes Assessment and Treatment Units
Ms Ryan said: ‘There seems to be a bizarre acceptance that restraint and seclusion are somehow necessary and acceptable for certain people.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘We are very clear that any kind of restraint should only be used as a last resort.’