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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

New standards to protect young people on adult psychiatric wards

Embargoed until 13 January 2009

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has developed new standards to help safeguard under-18s who are placed on adult psychiatric wards.

In 2007-2008, 11% of inpatient mental health admissions of young people were to an adult psychiatric wards1. These wards are not always safe for young people and care may not be effective. For example, a 2007 report from 11 MILLION, Pushed into the Shadows, outlined the appalling treatment many children and young people with mental health problems have experienced when placed on adult mental health wards2.

The College’s new standards, Safe and appropriate care for young people on adult mental health wards, have been commissioned by the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE). They are designed to help adult mental health wards meet their current obligations under the Code of Practice to provide a safe environment, and to meet the requirements of an amendment to the Mental Health Act 2007, which places hospital managers under a legal duty to ensure young people admitted to hospital with mental health problems are accommodated in an environment suitable for their age3.

The standards have been developed in partnership with young service users, their parents and mental health practitioners. There are over 170 criteria, covering a range of areas such as the physical environment of the ward, staffing and training, assessment and admission processes, care and treatment, education and learning, and consent and confidentiality.

Jim Symington, national programme lead for legislation at NIMHE, said: “We are all committed to delivering better care for young people and by implementing these standards, adult wards will improve care and safeguard young people immediately.”

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896



Safe and appropriate care for young people on adult mental health wards. Editors: Anne O'Herlihy, Kathryn Pugh, Tim McDougall, Camilla Parker


Note to editors:

1 Department of Health Local Delivery Plan returns 2007-8 2 Pushed into the Shadows (January 2007) 11 MILLION 3 Section 131a of the revised Mental Health Act creates a duty upon managers to accommodate children and young people who are admitted under the Act or under any other legal power in an environment suitable for their age, subject to their needs. It is expected that this duty will come into force in April 2010, but the Code of Practice states that managers should take all steps that they can to comply with the duty even before it comes into force.


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