A controversial restraint technique has been used on patients in NHS Tayside psychiatric hospitals almost once a week.
In the first 10 months of 2017, 53 patients were subjected to “floor — face-down” restraints in psychiatric institutes across the region.
The practice can be dangerous as a person is restrained, face down, with the weight of one or more people on top of them, which can lead to the person’s breathing being restricted.
The technique is generally carried out when a person is acting as a danger to themselves or others.
In the 2016, it was used 39 times across Tayside’s mental health facilities.
Research by the mental health charity Mind found that some mental health trusts across the UK no longer use face-down restraint because it is considered “too dangerous and traumatic” and the charity previously called for a ban.
Calum Irving, director of See Me — which tackles mental health stigma and discrimination — said: “When people are struggling with their mental health they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, free from discrimination of any kind.
“This is especially true in health and social care settings, therefore restraint should always be a last resort and every effort made to avoid it.”
Colin McKay, chief executive of The Mental Welfare Commission (MWC) for Scotland, which protects and promotes the human rights of people with mental illness, said: “Any form of restraint must be legally justified, and be the minimum which is reasonably necessary, for the minimum possible time.”
A spokeswoman for Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership said: “In some instances, it is necessary for staff to use a reasonable level of force to restrict a person’s movement to avoid a greater harm occurring.
“The ‘floor – face down’ restraint is a response to a high level of physical risk from a patient and is used only when all other options have failed. It is generally considered to be the last resort and is used for the shortest-possible time to ensure the safety of patients and staff.
“All physical interventions are taught from the perspective of being the last resort for the shortest period of time using the lowest level of force/restriction and the smallest number of staff.”