CQC Raises Concern Over Access to Quality Mental Health Services

The CQC has published a report on the quality of specialist mental health care in England.

State of Care in Mental Health Services 2014 to 2017 reflects on findings from the last three years of inspections and the CQC’s role monitoring use of the Mental Health Act, as well as analysis of data from other sources.

At 31 May 2017, inspectors had rated 68% of core services provided by NHS trusts and 72% of independent mental health locations as good; with 6% of NHS and 3% of independent core services rated as outstanding. But they also found too much poor care, and far too much variation in both quality and access across different services.

The report describes how our inspectors found that 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.

However, the report also identifies several areas of concern:

  • difficulties around accessing services,
  • physical environments not designed to keep people safe,
  • care that is over-restrictive and institutional in nature,
  • and poor recording and sharing of information that undermines the efforts of staff to work together to make sure that people get the right care at the right time.

Speaking about the report, Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector (Lead for Mental Health) said “The mental health sector is at a crossroads. 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.”

“Now that we have inspected all specialist mental health services, we have a baseline against which we can continue to monitor and measure the quality of care. We will continue to highlight good practice, drive improvement and take action to protect people where necessary. We expect those that deliver and commission care must learn from the services that are getting it right so that everyone gets the help they need when they need it.”

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