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Absconding patients on film

11th October 2006

05102006_mentalhealthward1.jpgA BBC investigation filmed psychiatric patients escaping from a mental health unit by climbing over a 20ft-high (6m) security fence.

The Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust has said it will improve security, after BBC South's Inside Out programme showed absconding patients on five different days by climbing the fence at Southampton's Royal South Hants hospital. The trust revealed a total of 26 patients have escaped using the fence in the last four years, with one patient every two months absconding since 2002, but the rate has increased since the summer.

One patient had absconded more than 50 times within just a few months, his mother told the programme. Work is expected to begin soon to make the fence more difficult to climb, the trust chief executive told the programme, while some patients were free to leave, he denied that sectioned patients had been absconding on a daily basis. The programme caused concern among mental health campaigners, who say suicide rates are very high among patients who abscond.

 

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