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CQC criticises mental health provisions, concerns over anti-depressants and some good reasons for booking a holiday

A round-up of the health news headlines on Wednesday 30 January

More people are being sectioned under the Mental Health Act and too many of those detained are subjected to unnecessary restrictions, the Guardian reports.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its annual report into the working of the Mental Health Act 1983 and highlighted concerns that though there were examples of excellent practice, some hospitals have ‘allowed cultures to develop where control and containment are prioritised over treatment and care.’

In total, 48,631 people were detained in hospital to receive mental health treatment in England in 2011–12 an increase of  5% compared to 2010-11.

Another 4,220 people became subject to a community treatment order and a further 16,000 people voluntarily admitted themselves for treatment.

As part of their inspections the CQC found that 4% of the 4,576 patient records checked showed ‘irregularities that called the legality of the detention into question which means that more than 180 patients may have been unlawfully detained.’

They also found that ‘unacceptably high number’ of people who were in hospital voluntarily were detained in all but name, with no signs on locked doors explaining to patients how they could leave the ward.

The CQC voiced concerns that staff were inadequately trained in restraining patients exhibiting disturbed or violent behaviour, as staff on one inspected ward had not received refresher training for two or three years, despite high numbers of incidents in their unit.

Four examples of patients being restrained by police using a Taser gun were found, which the CQC said was ‘of great concern’ and raises questions about staff numbers.

David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive, said: ‘Our report has found too many instances where people have been restricted inappropriately. It is unacceptable for the current situation to continue.’

Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, voiced concern that ‘people’s basic human rights are being infringed at a time when they are likely to be at their most vulnerable.’

The Telegraph bring us the news that the most common antidepressant in the UK increases the risk of heart seizures, according to American doctors.

They found that citalopram, which is prescribed to about a million people, increases the chance of developing the potentially fatal heart problem known as Long QT syndrome, where the electrical impulses that control the heart take longer to ‘recharge’ between beats.

This increases the risk of other heart rhythm problems such as Torsade de Pointes, which can cause the heart to stop pumping blood.

Doctors at the Massachussetts General Hospital in Boston, US, tracked the health of more than 38,000 people in New England over a decade, and found the closely related antidepressant escitalopram, and another called amitriptyline also had a similar effect.

The results echo previous studies European. Last year the Medicinces Agency (EMA) found similar results and issued advice about lowering the maximum doses of citalopram as a result.

And over at the Daily Mail we find the shocking news that holidays are in fact… good for you!

Research from the Nuffield Trust and tour operator Kuoni found that going on holiday cuts your blood pressure, helps you sleep better and relieves the symptoms of stress- and these effects can last from two weeks to months after you return.

Twelve volunteers underwent a health assessment, wore heart monitors to measure their sleep patterns and resilience to stress, had psychotherapeutic tests and were given dietary and lifestyle advice in summer 2012.

Half were sent on a two-week holiday abroad while the remainder stayed working at home. Afterwards everyone had a second round of clinical and psychological tests and wore heart monitors for 72 hours to compare the holiday makers with the unlucky group that stayed at home.

Experts are now advising that workers should always take their full holiday entitlement each year - as many as one in three don’t - to reap the benefits.

Dr Lucy Goundry, Nuffield Health, Medical Director, said: ‘For the first time, our clinical results show how holidays helped these couples reduce their blood pressure, improve their sleep and manage their stress levels better.

‘These results clearly demonstrate that on holiday our ability to physically cope with stress improves.

‘As many as a third of workers do not take their full holiday entitlement each year - I urge everyone to ensure they plan their holidays carefully. Working hard is important but so is taking time to rest and recuperate.’

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