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Mental Health Units Use of Force Act (2018)

The Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Act 2018 and statutory guidance requires all trusts to have a written policy to clearly set out the measures which are needed to both reduce the use of force and ensure accountability and transparency about the use of force in mental health settings.

Use of ForceWhy do we need this?

Use of Force interventions are only considered when other approaches such as gentle communication, reasoning and persuasion, have been tried and an individual’s behaviour could cause harm to themselves or to others, or they could cause serious damage to property which could be a risk to others.

Sadly, there have been incidents in the past where individuals being restrained have died. The purpose of the Act is to make provision about the oversight and management of the appropriate use of force in relation to people in inpatient mental health units, with the aim of both reducing the use of force where practicable and ensuring its appropriateness when it is used.

  • You can view our Use of Force policy here >>>
  • We have a Use of Force Roles and Responsibilities statement. This sets out how roles are allocated when the use of force is deemed necessary, where and how information is recorded, and how reporting requirements are managed. You can read this here >>
  • We have a Use of Force poster to be displayed in all wards
  • A Use of Force leaflet is in draft. This is being co-produced with service users

Staff Training

As part of their mandatory training, staff working in mental health settings receive training to be able to de-escalate situations and find peaceable solutions to volatile situations – but sometimes a firmer solution is needed to safely manage a situation. We provide specific training to staff on the use of force so that in the event this type of intervention is needed, so that everyone knows how they should proceed. In our Use of Force roles and responsibilities paper, you can see who is responsible in the Trust for the safe management of these interventions.

Impact on Everyone

The use of force can be a difficult and upsetting experience for service users when they feel most vulnerable. It can be upsetting for those who witness it, such as other patients/service users, visitors and staff too. Our Use of Force policy sets out the aftercare that should be followed for the individual and for others present. 

The majority of service users in our care will never require us to activate our Use of Force policy. The communication skills of staff and the relationships they have with service users already support their needs and address issues. But on the occasions that we need to use force, it is important that we do this safely and carefully.