POTENTIALLY deadly face-down restraints are still being used at the Southern Health NHS Trust, figures reveal.

Charity Mencap, which supports people with learning disabilities, says vulnerable patients locked in "modern day asylums" across England are being "put at risk of abuse and neglect".

Staff at the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (SHFT) reported physically restraining patients with learning disabilities or autism at least 400 times in the eight months leading up to to June, NHS Digital figures show.

Of these, five instances were in the prone position, which is where a patient is pinned face-down against the floor or another surface.

However, the Trust have denied the figures claiming that the prone position has not been used of patients with learning disabilities.

The Trust has four locations in Hampshire including two in Southampton, as well as one in Winchester and one in Havant.

Mental health charity Mind says face-down restraint carries a significant risk of death because of the severe impact it can have on a patient's ability to breathe, and has called for the Government to implement a ban on its use.

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence adds that the practice has been known to kill in as little as ten minutes.

Dan Corner, head of policy and public affairs at Mencap, said: "Guidance set out by the Government clearly shows that restrictive interventions should only be used as a last resort.

"However, These figures suggest that it is routine. This is unacceptable and deeply shocking.

"The Government must take urgent action to put a stop to this domestic human rights scandal.”

However, as previously reported by the Daily Echo, the use of physical restraint have been dramatically reduced by staff at Stewart Ward in Bluebird House, Southampton.

It was revealed that nine months into the 18-month Reducing Restrictive Practices programme, the ward has reduced their use of ‘restrictive practices’ by 67 per cent.

Dr Karl Marlowe, chief medical officer at SHFT, said: “Physical restraint is distressing for all involved so should only be used as a last resort to keep patients and staff safe.

"We are working extremely hard to reduce the use of restraint in our services and aspire to create environments where restraint is never required.

"Within Willow Ward, our learning disability inpatient service, we have never used prone restraints.

"The figures also reflect the fact that all restraints are diligently recorded, with many simply being the result of ‘redirecting’ a patient with a hand on the arm for example.”

Royston Smith MP for Southampton Itchen said that "ideally" he would like to see "no restrain at all".

He added: "However, for the safety of the patient, the staff and other patients sometimes restraint will need to be used. I am encouraged that Southern Health are reducing the frequency of restraint and I hope that when it is absolutely necessary to do it it is carried out as safely as possible.”