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Mental health services ‘at a cross roads’ finds CQC


By Carolyn Wickware
21 July 2017

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Mental health services are ‘at a crossroads’ a three-year report on mental health providers from the CQC has concluded.

After inspecting all mental health service providers, the CQC found that, although there are some examples of good quality care, there is still too much poor care and high variation in quality and access of services.

The care quality watchdog inspected 54 NHS trusts and 221 independent mental health locations and found that 22 of the trusts were providing care that ‘requires improvement’ or is ‘inadequate’.

Mental health services are ‘at a crossroads’ a three-year report on mental health providers from the CQC has concluded.

After inspecting all mental health service providers, the CQC found that, although there are some examples of good quality care, there is still too much poor care and high variation in quality and access of services.

The care quality watchdog inspected 54 NHS trusts and 221 independent mental health locations and found that 22 of the trusts were providing care that ‘requires improvement’ or is ‘inadequate’.

The CQC found that physical environments are not designed to keep people safe, care is over-restrictive and institutional, and poor recording and sharing of information.

This comes as national figures show an increasing pressure on mental health services with the number of mental health nurses falling by 12% between January 2010 and January 2017, while the number of detentions under the Mental Health Act has risen by 26% between 2012/13 and 2015/16.

The report said that 3,500 beds are ‘locked’ in mental health rehabilitation wards, with two-thirds managed in the independent sector.

It said: ‘These wards are often situated a long way from the patient’s home, meaning that people are isolated from their friends and families.’

The report added that trust leadership should supports staff to work to their full potential not only increasing the quality of care but also putting providers in a ‘stronger position to face a future in which the scale of the challenge is unlikely to decrease’.

It added: ‘Commissioners, too, have a responsibility to ensure that the services they are buying with public money are right for the people using them.’

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said the ‘vital work’ of mental health providers must be supported by services ‘that give people the help they need, when they need it’.

He said: ‘The mental health sector is at a crossroads. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, published last year, along with the newly introduced waiting time standards, point the way to a future where people have easy access to high quality care close to home and are able to exercise choice.

‘To achieve this vision, the sector must overcome an unprecedented set of challenges – high demand, workforce shortages, unsuitable buildings and poor clinical information systems.’

Sean Duggan, the chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said: ‘What we urgently need now is a strong and robust workforce fit for the future to help deliver the necessary transformation.

‘We await the upcoming workforce strategy and continue to press the Government to invest appropriately in mental health services. Getting mental health services right will relieve pressure on other parts of the health system.’

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