The report, entitled ‘Behind Closed Doors’, highlights a sector plagued by overcrowding, a lack of hygiene, run-down facilities and a widespread abuse of street drugs by inpatients.
The charities, Rethink, Sane and The Zito Trust, described conditions in psychiatric wards as ‘harrowing’ but also welcomed government revision of the hugely unpopular first draft of the new Mental Health Bill.
Although the report highlights the prescription of outdated medicines with ‘intolerable side-effects’ and serious staff shortages as outstanding issues, the government’s reform programme has improved inpatients’ safety, privacy and engagement with staff, the report said.
It points to improvements too in the availability of antipsychotic drugs in injection form used to treat profoundly agitated psychiatric patients.
Angie Wiles, joint MD at Virgo Health PR, which is co-ordinating publicity for the report, said: ‘We’re delighted to see all three charities spotlighting attention on such a major issue.
‘The report is aimed at encouraging people to stand up for their rights,’ she added.
The release of the report comes just a week before Mental Health Action Week.