[hospitals] demonstrate a lack of understanding of the significance of depriving people of their liberty."
With the increased use of the Act, there are now 14,000 detained patients, a rise of 2,500 since 1997, the highest number since the Act was introduced in 1983.
The report highlights the inquiry in 2004 into the death of David "Rocky" Bennett, a schizophrenic who died after a struggle with staff at an NHS hospital in Norwich.
The inquiry called for systems to ensure the attendance of a senior doctor in case of an emergency within half an hour. But smaller private hospitals have arrangements that "could not possibly expect the attendance of a doctor within half an hour". The report cites the case of a single consultant psychiatrist offering simultaneous “24-hour” cover to five independent hospitals, some of them over 40 miles apart.
The report says the consultant psychiatrist cover may consist of an arrangement for a consultant psychiatrist, mostly retired, to attend the hospital and see patients after 6 pm one day per week, or at weekends.
The result of delay in setting up community teams and lack of access to early care would be that patients are often so ill that they require urgent hospital care.
Prof Kamlesh Patel, the commission chairman, said: "The NHS should provide reassurance to everybody that they will receive appropriate and dignified care if they fall ill. It is in this respect more than any other that mental health services are failing to match the standards of the rest of the NHS."
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