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Physical restraint used on 50% more NHS patients with learning disabilities

Growing numbers of patients with learning disabilities are being physically restrained in mental health units, despite ministers telling NHS trusts to use such techniques less often.

Staff in NHS mental health hospitals deployed restraint on such patients 22,000 times last year, almost 50% more than the 15,000 occasions in 2016, BBC research has found.

That included a rise in face-down or “prone” restraint, which is particularly controversial and has been widely criticised as dangerous. Used 2,200 times in 2016, the figure rose to 3,100 in 2017.

The disclosures, made by Radio 4 programme File on 4, prompted criticism from health charities and the minister who, in 2014, ordered trusts to reduce their use of restraint.

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