UK: Deaths of mentally ill detainees preventable

February 23, 2015


A study conducted in the United Kingdom concluded that many mentally ill detained persons died in the past few years due to neglect by medical staff of their mental health and other needs.

According to the researchers, commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, over 600 deaths in psychiatric wards, prisons and police cells were preventable. These deaths were caused by repeated mistakes made by mental health care staff. The probe focused specifically on adults who were detained on psychiatric wards, in prisons and in police cells between 2010 and 2013. It found a series of basic errors were responsible for preventable deaths – including a failure to integrate families.

The study reveals 367 adults with mental health conditions died of “non-natural” causes while detained in police cells and on psychiatric wards during this period. Some 295 died in prison. While not all deaths were avoidable, the commission said simple interventions could have prevented most of them. Non-natural deaths included suicides, homicides, deaths caused by another person and accidental overdoses, according to the report.

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