In 2017, restraints were used more than 22,000 times - once every half an hour. This was up from 15,000 times in 2016.

Former Social Care Minister Norman Lamb said the use of restraint was "shameful".

The Department of Health said it was committed to reducing the use of restrictive force in hospitals.

'Absolutely shocking'

The data, which covers both adults and children, obtained from NHS digital by BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme also found:

  • Patient on patient assaults rose from 3,600 to more than 9,000 over the same period and figures for January to May this year suggest they are continuing to rise
  • Instances of face-down or prone restraint - which should no longer be used according to government guidelines - also increased from more than 2,200 to 3,100

Authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland said it was not possible for them to provide fully comparative data.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who introduced guidelines to reduce the use of force in hospitals in 2014, said the use of face-down restraint was "absolutely shocking" and "extraordinarily demeaning".

"The bottom line is that I had wanted to see and expected to see a substantial decline in the use of restraint and that hasn't happened.

"I think that's really shameful when we know that it's possible in very many cases to avoid the use of restraint at all through a more sophisticated approach to people in inpatient settings."

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