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Head of hospital security blows whistle on 'unlawful detentions'

The former head of security at the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has blown the whistle on alleged malpractice at the trust, which he says was responsible for the unlawful detention and restraint of some patients, reports The Telegraph.

John Marchant, who was formerly the head of security at the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said that elderly patients and some children had been locked up in their rooms or restrained in their beds, despite them being of no risk to themselves or anyone else.

Mr Marchant made his revelations in an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, where he claimed that one member of staff had been so concerned about the practice of restraining one child that he had refused to do it and reminded health staff that the practice would be illegal in the circumstances.

Mr Marchant also claimed that some elderly patients were restrained despite only wishing to walk around wards or talk to other patients.

Following the allegations the Department of Health has asked the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to launch an investigation.

"We are absolutely clear that physical restraint should only ever be used as a last resort and it should be used for the shortest time possible. There are strict conditions that must be met before any patient is restrained or detained," a Department of Health spokesman told The Telegraph.

The Dudley Group has denied Mr Marchant's claims and said over the weekend that staff always acted in the best interests of patients.

The Dudley Group did however accept that security staff had raised concerns about the practice of detaining or restraining patients in the past.

Mr Marchant said the majority of patients detained were elderly and were those fit to leave hospital but with no onward care plan in place. Often these patients would be wandering the wards, but with no staff to accompany them they were made to sit in their rooms.

"Some would go back to their rooms if you asked them, but others would have to be closed in and it would be very distressing for them," he said.

The CQC has yet to comment on the allegations.