A DORSET trust has been rapped by independent health watchdogs after a man admitted to mental hospital was illegally injected with a "chemical straightjacket" while he was unconscious.

The Healthcare Commission ruled that there was no medical justification for the third of three injections of tranquillising drugs given to Gary Sherborne at St Ann's Hospital in Poole.

It ordered Dorset HealthCare Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, to make sure it complies with the law and national clinical guidelines in future.

Three years after the incident, the trust has given a written apology to 45-year-old Mr Sherborne, of Boscombe, - as requested by the commission.

Mr Sherborne, who does voluntary community work, was taken to the hospital on February 9, 2005 after police were called to what he says was a peaceful protest against living conditions in Boscombe bedsits.

As a youngster, Mr Sherborne was abused while in a Birmingham care facility. He was a witness at the trial of one of the members of staff years later. While he was being assessed at St Ann's, he suggested that the hospital should contact his lawyer, who knew of his background. This was not done and he was detained under the Mental Health Act for up to 28 days.

"They just assumed I was showing signs of a breakdown. When they said: Do you understand what being sectioned means?', I said I wanted information. They threw a note at me, which gives you the absolute basics.

"This was the first time I had ever been to mental hospital. You have more protection and more rights in prison."

He claims he was physically restrained by four male members of staff, who pushed him along a corridor and on to a bed in a ward.

"The next thing I know, they're unbuckling my trousers and I'm being jabbed in the backside."

Mr Sherborne was given "rapid tranquillisation" with the anti-psychotic drug haloperidol, and the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam. Such treatment is only supposed to be used if other measures to "de-escalate" a situation have failed.

The next morning Mr Sherborne was again restrained after he went off to find a computer. He claims he had not been told he was confined to the ward.

"They just overwhelmed me. They got me down on the floor and repeated the process. I think there were 14 members of staff involved. There was no need to undo my trousers - that's to degrade you."

While still sleeping off the second injection of haloperidol and lorezepam just after 4pm he was given a dose of a major tranquilliser called Clopixol Acuphase and more lorezepam.

Mr Sherborne cannot remember the injection and only realised it had been given to him when he obtained his medical records.

He was discharged the following morning after doctors decided he had no treatable mental illness. He was sent home in a taxi, but got out at the Landsdowne in a state of confusion.

"I almost fell down. My joints seized up and I was unable to talk to the driver."

He managed to walk to Boscombe, but friends who came to see him a couple of hours later were so concerned that they took him to the accident and emergency department at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital. He was later charged with three offences of assaulting members of the hospital's staff, but was cleared at magistrates court.

In upholding his complaint, the Healthcare Commission took advice form an independent psychiatrist who noted there had been no evidence of Mr Sherborne being aggressive after 5.50pm on the day he was admitted to St Ann's.

He described the lorezepam and Acuphase given the following afternoon as "unnecessary and inappropriate" and said the dose went against prescribing guidelines.

Mr Sherborne said: "The next step is to go to the police - I'm not going to let it go. As a result of this I am trying to set up an independent mental health advocacy service so I can make sure patients are told of their rights. I am trying to draw attention to what's happening."

Dr Laurence Mynors-Wallis, medical director of the trust, said: "While we are unable to comment on an individual case we would like to reassure people that his complaint is an isolated incident.

"This is the only complaint that has been upheld by the Healthcare Commission. In last year's service user questionnaire, 78 per cent of service users rated their care as excellent, very good or good, with 88 per cent confirming that they had active input into decisions made about their medication.

"General levels of satisfaction with our services are high among our service users and compare favourably to other specialist trusts, with less than one complaint for every 4,000 treatments.

"This said, any complaint is naturally of concern to us and, in this instance, we have implemented a robust action plan which fully meets the Healthcare Commission's recommendations, and this has been shared with the individual involved."