THE USE of ‘restrictive practices’ on a ward at a hospital have been dramatically reduced, new figures show.

Practices including physical restraint, seclusion and rapid tranquillisation have dropped by 75 per cent on Maplewood 3 Ward at Calderstones Hospital (now Mersey Care Whalley) in Whalley, which is the only NHS hospital in Britain that specialises in learning disabilities.

The drop comes nine months into the 18-month ‘Reducing Restrictive Practices’ programme, which aims to reduce the use of restrictive practices in mental health trusts following concerns about how frequently staff use restraint and seclusion.

NHS data shows the ward has reduced their average monthly use of restrictive practices from 17 at the start of the programme to four.

The reductions have been achieved using methods of care, including rambling trips, which has allowed staff and patients to mix with one another off the ward.

Kathryn Mason, head of hospital inspection for mental health at health and social care watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), said: “The reductions have been achieved by involving patients, carers and staff in the programme which highlights the importance of enabling patients to be full partners in decisions about their treatment and care.”

Dr Jennifer Kilcoyne, clinical director at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are always extremely grateful and proud of the continued efforts of our staff teams to adopt new improvement ideas to reduce the use of restrictive practices.  Restrictive practices range from unnecessary rules, which can be a source of frustration to people using our services, to the use of potentially harmful interventions such as physical restraint.

"We recognise that there is always more to do in this area  and we are on an improvement journey across the whole of our services to focus on preventing conflict from happening on our wards.

"Such positive recognition through the Royal College of Psychiatrists is always very encouraging and highly motivating for our frontline staff  who have worked hard with the people who use our services to gain these impressive results and as an organisation shows us we are on the right path to improve the wellbeing of people in our services through creating safer environments for everyone.”