A SOUTHAMPTON mental health ward has "dramatically" cut the use of physical restraint in the last nine months.

Stewart Ward in Bluebird House, Southampton, have replaced the use of physical restraint, seclusion and rapid tranquillization since joining an improvement programme led by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Nine months into the 18-month Reducing Restrictive Practices programme, the mental health ward has reduced their use of "restrictive practices" by 67 per cent, which has been described as "inspiring" by health bosses.

The reductions have been delivered using innovative methods, including patients writing their own care plans and "here to help" staff talking with patients on the ward rather than being in their office.

NHS data shows there were 99,609 recorded cases of restraint in England in 2017-18, including 10,881 instances of people held in the prone position - the body laying face down - and 52,498 other types of physical restraint.

Patients were kept in seclusion rooms on 8,805 occasions and tranquilised 8,718 times.

The Reducing Restrictive Practices programme, which launched in November 2018 and concludes in March 2020, aims to reduce the use of restrictive practices by one third in 41 wards across 25 mental health trusts.

Dr Amar Shah, national lead for the Mental Health Safety Improvement programme, said: “The results achieved by Stewart Ward so early in the programme are staggering and shows what can be done when staff and service users come together to test out their ideas to improve care.

“Quality Improvement gives staff and service users the freedom and opportunity to develop new ideas, test these out and measure progress in real-time.

“While we are only half-way through the programme, we are seeing improvements such as these in many of our participating wards.

"This is truly inspiring, as restrictive practice is a complex topic where we’ve struggled to see improvement through other approaches.”

Stewart Ward has reduced their average monthly use of restrictive practices from 76 at the start of the programme to 25.

The programme is using a new way of improving patient care and services called Quality Improvement (QI).

It focuses on involving those closest to the issue – staff, service users and carers - to identify and test new ideas and uses data to understand which ideas are working.

It is the first-time quality improvement has been used nationally in England for mental health, with almost half of England’s mental health trusts taking part.