PATIENTS sectioned under the Mental Health Act are going missing and “absconding” from hospital after being given day release, it has been revealed.

An urgent “thematic” review has been launched by the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust – which provides community health, mental health, and learning disability services – in response.

The trust has stated is is an “emerging concern” with repeated incidents of people granted leave not returning within agreed timescales.

It has sparked concerns that mental health patients could be a risk to themselves, or others, if they are failing to return to hospital.

James Moyies, Southend Conservative councillor responsible for public health, adult social care and constitutional affairs, said: “It is concerning if people are leaving treatment and not returning in the timescales they have. Communication is such an important factor to reinforce patients that they are safe, and this could also reassure them that they are in the best possible place.”

It is not clear how many have gone missing but “no patient harm is known to have occurred at this current time”.

Trust Links, which provides a range of mental health support in Essex for adults, young people and families, supported 4,000 people related to the partnership last year, according to its CEO Matt King.

Mr King insisted it is vital that the hospital trust works with charities like his own to ensure mental health patients are safe and do return.

He said: “We would want people to have the care and support they need in the community and health facilities, and it’s really important to have that. The volunteer community sector can help and work alongside EPUT to work in collaboration way to respond to their needs and ensure they get the help in the community. It is making sure they get on a positive road to ensure they get the help they need when they need it by the mental health services responding to the patients in our community.”

The issue was highlighted in the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System’s board papers ahead of a meeting on Thursday.

A spokesman for the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust said: “The care and safety of our patients is our number one priority – improvements to ward safety, communication and engagement have resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in incidents of patients absconding.”