Private hospital told to provide policy for restraints use

A private hospital which provides treatment for eating disorders has been told to provide a written policy for possible future use of specialist mechanical restraint equipment for treating such illnesses, following a visit by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (MWCS).

Huntercombe Hospital in West Lothian said it had no plans to introduce use of the equipment. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Huntercombe Hospital in Uphall, West Lothian, a 22-bed facility providing inpatient mental health assessment and treatment for young people aged 11-18, was visited unannounced by the commission on 6 December last year.

Inspectors saw specialist equipment for nasogastric feeding – when food is carried to the stomach through a tube via the nose – and discussed with managers how the equipment was used.

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Such equipment is used in treating very ill patients and is designed to make naso­gastric feeding as comfortable as ­possible.

The report stated: “We were informed any forms of mechanical restraint considered are no different from that used in NHS eating disorder units elsewhere. At present the use of mechanical restraint is being further investigated by the Huntercombe team as they consider whether to use it in future. We advised contacting the State Hospital for advice.”

A MWCS spokeswoman said: “The equipment we saw on our visit had not been used, but was there for potential future use in severe cases.”

A spokesman for the hospital said: “The Huntercombe Hospital Edinburgh does not use mechanical restraint. It has no plans to introduce it. There are no such devices in the hospital and there have never been.

“The Huntercombe group does not support the use of any such device in any of its hospitals.

“As part of keeping informed of all developments in areas of eating disorder, the hospital director sought counsel on latest practice in the NHS in some of their eating disorder units. He also consulted the Mental Welfare Commission. The Commission simply asked that the hospital director keep them informed of the development of any policies around use of such restraint practice by the hospital.

“However, the director and senior clinical team were clear that they would not introduce such devices or practices as they considered they were not appropriate in our hospital.

“They informed the Mental Welfare Commission of that when they visited. As such, the policy is not to use such restraints.”