Shocking use of face-down restraints on mental health patients in Manchester doubles in last year


  • An audit conducted by the Liberal Democrats has seen a shocking rise in face-down restraints in Manchester.
  • Figures show an average of four restraints every day last year - double that of three years ago.
  • 194 instances of face-down restraint were recorded at the Manchester Trust last year, up from 54 in 2014/15.
  • John Leech: “Abundantly clear Manchester's mental health units are working under impossible strain."

The use of physical restraint against mental health patients at Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust has doubled over the last three years, with an average of four restraints every day last year, new research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

An audit conducted by the Liberal Democrats also showed that a huge increase in mental health patients being subjected to face-down restraint – a dangerous and distressing practice which can restrict a patient’s breathing.


John Leech, former MP for Manchester Withington, said: “The shocking rise in physical and face-down restraint in Manchester is deeply concerning."

John Leech has worked closely with hospitals and trusts in and around Manchester for over 25 years, commenting that "they provide a world-class level of care."

However, these statistics come despite guidance issued by John Leech's close colleague, Norman Lamb, as Care Minister in April 2014 aimed at substantially reducing the use of physical restraint in psychiatric units and ultimately ending the practice of face-down restraint altogether.

194 instances of face-down restraint were recorded at the Manchester Trust last year (2015/16), up from 54 in 2014/15.

127 injuries to patients and 218 injuries to staff were reported as having occurred as a result of physical restraint at the Trust in the past year, highlighting the dangers the practice can pose to both patients and staff.

John Leech added"Heavy use of physical restraint is completely unacceptable and has no place in Manchester's care system. The practice is outdated, dangerous and causes vulnerable people an enormous amount of distress at a time when they should feel safe and cared for.

“It is abundantly clear that Manchester's mental health units are working under impossible strain, with dangerously high bed occupancy rates and staff shortages.

"We need to be working together to tackle this problem because if we ignore it the result will be a continued erosion between practitioner and patient, which will have a seriously detrimental impact on recovery."


Elected earlier this year as the sole opposition on Manchester Council, John Leech will raise the concerning report with Cllr. Paul Andrews, Adult Health and Wellbeing executive, with a pledge to improve patient and practitioner relationships.

“Cllr. Paul Andrews must urgently follow this up and review the reasons why this is happening.

"Using physical and face-down restraint with this kind of alarming frequency is simply not good enough.

"We are failing the very most vulnerable people we should be aiming to help.”


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