How safe is our "place of safety"? Clinical guidance promoting safer medical care of patients detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act

Josie Mouko, Aurielle Goddard, Victoria Nimmo-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

A new four-bed unit was opened in Bristol, UK, in 2014, for people detained under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Police bring individuals posing a risk to themselves or others to a Place of Safety (PoS) in order to receive a mental health assessment. Individuals may be held for up to 72 hours, but cannot receive treatment against their will, unless assessed as lacking the capacity to refuse treatment. Issues requiring medical input arose in more than a third of patients, yet there was little guidance for trainees around the PoS.

We conducted a survey which confirmed that robust clinical guidance was needed for junior doctors around medical assistance in this unique environment. We identified specific concerns around patient safety in relation to alcohol withdrawal, uncertainties around legislation and lack of clarity of who to call out of hours. Trainees felt they were working outside of their expertise.

We collaborated with a variety of professionals to produce clinical guidance in line with best evidence, and made this easily accessible. We also gained a consensus that more experienced core trainees (SHOs) in Psychiatry should be the first point of contact.

We then conducted a survey in June 2015, and found that doctors covering the PoS now felt there was sufficient guidance on most clinical scenarios, 100% consensus on who to contact and improved confidence in their ability to manage issues arising.

In August 2015 we held an informal training session for the new intake of trainees on the rota. A subsequent survey revealed similarly positive results.

Through this project, we were able to identify defects in a system, provide needed guidance to enable safer and more equitable care to a vulnerable group, and foster closer collaboration between junior doctors and managers in the design and use of services
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open Quality
Volume4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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