William Eichler 20 July 2017

Health regulators find ‘too much’ poor mental health care

Health regulators find ‘too much’ poor mental health care image

Independent health regulators have found there is ‘too much poor care’ and ‘too much variation’ in the quality of specialist mental health care in England.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have rated 68% of core services provided by NHS trusts and 72% of independent mental health locations as good. They also rated 6% of NHS and 3% of independent core services as outstanding.

However, a new CQC report into the state of care in mental health services between 2014 and 2017, warns there is ‘too much poor care, and far too much variation in both quality and access across different services.’

While the ‘clear majority’ of services are caring and compassionate towards their patients - with 88% of NHS and 93% of independent services being rated as good in this key question - inspectors found several areas of concern.

There were difficulties around accessing services in a number of places, and some physical environments were not designed to keep people safe.

The CQC inspections also revealed care that was over-restrictive and institutional in nature, and poor recording and sharing of information.

‘The mental health sector is at a crossroads,’ said Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector and lead for mental health.

‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, published last year, points 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.

‘Some services remain rooted in the past – providing care that is over-restrictive and that is not tailored to each person’s individual needs. This can leave people feeling helpless and powerless.

‘But the best services are looking to the future by working in partnership with the people whose care they deliver, empowering their staff and looking for opportunities to work with other parts of the health and care system.’

‘I welcome the Care Quality Commission’s report into the state of mental health care services,’ said Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

We issued our own report yesterday into Mental Capacity Assessments and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which are used by care providers to assess people’s ability to make decisions for themselves when in a care setting or hospital.

‘In that report, we said any measures put in place to protect people from harm should be the least restrictive possible.

‘In the last year, up to one in five of all complaints we received about adult social care had an element of Mental Capacity Assessment or Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding within them. And of those we investigated in more detail, we upheld 69% -higher than our 53% average.

‘People should be treated fairly and they should have the right to make choices for themselves unless they have been formally assessed as not having capacity.’

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