NHS shown “determination” to stop children being put on adult psychiatric wards

The NHS has proved its “determination” to stop children being admitted to adult psychiatric wards, according to the children’s commissioner for England.

The government set a target that by 2010 no children up to 16 should be treated in adult wards and for those under 18 it should only happen where appropriate.

Last year a report, entitled Pushed Into The Shadows, by the children’s commissioner, Professor Albert Aynsley-Green,called it a “national scandal” that children are being sexually harassed on adult psychiatric wards.

Prof Aynsley-Green subsequently made 20 recommendations for NHS trusts to prevent children being inappropriately admitted and to ensure those admitted on adult psychiatric wards were safe and properly cared for.

The commissioner’s Out of the Shadows? report published yesterday is a summary of action primary care and mental health trusts have taken.

It is based on written correspondence by trusts to Prof Aynsley-Green who concluded that trusts should be “applauded” for having shown “real determination” to fulfil the government’s pledge.

He said: “It is promising that the vast majority of responses showed that PCTs and mental health trusts have put in place, or have taken steps to put in place, a variety of measures to address the range of concerns identified by recommendations in Pushed into the Shadows.”

But Prof Aynsley-Green said “more needs to be done” to ensure that young people placed on adult wards have appropriate level of care.

A Department of Health spokesman said some 16 and 17-year-olds will continue to be treated alongside adults after 2010.

He said: “It would be inappropriate to introduce an absolute prohibition of 16/17-year-olds being placed on an adult ward, as this would mean some patients would not be treated in an environment suitable for their needs and in line with their wishes.”

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