Reassurances over mental health care

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MENTAL health chiefs insist Wigan borough is in good hands amid national reports of medical detentioning cock-ups.

Bosses at the Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust say that despite claims of errors at other authorities, all practising doctors in the borough who are qualified to “section” patients are given the strictest training and that improvements have made the process safer for everybody concerned.

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says urgent retrospective legislation is needed to correct a “technical error” affecting up to 5,000 patients detained sectioned under the Mental Health Act since 2002.

The error means doctors who sectioned patients in England did not have the right jurisdiction to do so.

Mr Hunt insists all were qualified to make the clinical decisions and none of the patients was wrongly detained.

He has ordered an independent review.

However, in Wigan borough, bosses at the Five Boroughs believe that there have been great steps made in improving sectioning procedures and that patient safety is of paramount importance.

A trust spokesman said: “During the period April 1 2011 to March 31 2012, 257 people who are registered with a GP from NHS Ashton, Leigh and Wigan and were in-patients at our Trust were placed on a section under the Mental Health Act.”

Dr Chetan Majjiga, a Lead Consultant for Adult Services in Wigan, believes that mental health provision has made great leaps forward in the past few years and hopes that the stigma surrounding it will soon be forgotten.

Dr Majjiga said: “There has been a great stigma attached to the term sectioning over the years but in essence it is a very stringent process with lots of safeguards that ultimately is there to help people.

“Sectioning only takes place as a last resort and it takes the assessment of two Section 12 qualified doctors and an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMP).

“What is promising in Wigan is that if somebody is sectioned and then given access to mental health services, only a third of patients reaccess services from us again and this shows that we have good practice in place and ultimately we are getting them the help they need before something more serious can happen or there is a threat to their safety.”