The independent regulator of heath and social care services in England, the Care Quality Commission, has today published its annual State of Care report, which looks at the quality of all health services.
Overall, it found some improvements in mental health services but still found problems in one in eight inspections. Staffing levels are of particular concern, with one in 10 inspections raising concerns in this area.
In particular it found:
- Safeguarding and safety in NHS mental health services: “Very little improvement in the safety of care across NHS hospitals, community healthcare services or mental health and learning disability services.”
- Respect and dignity in NHS mental health services: “Our inspectors saw improvements in NHS mental health and learning disability services treating people with respect and dignity. Ninety-three per cent of inspections met the standard, up from 91% the previous year.”
- Suitability of staffing in NHS mental health services: “Staffing issues were proving the most difficult problem to resolve, with no improvement and one in 10 inspections raising concerns.”
- Monitoring quality in NHS mental health services: “In some cases, mental health providers did not report any episodes of seclusion, restraint, assault and self-harm for the whole of 2012/13 – this despite reporting being mandatory […] We find it very difficult to understand how mental health providers can assess and monitor the quality of the care they provide if they are not able to accurately supply data about it. Providers must improve.”
- Independent healthcare: “The quality of care in mental health and learning disability services lags behind that of other independent services. These services did make improvements in 2012/13, but there is still some way to go.” Significant improvements have been made however in care and welfare, and respect and dignity.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“We are encouraged by the improvements the CQC is reporting in some mental health services, especially in the important area of respect and dignity. Being treated with respect and dignity improves relationships between staff and patients, which in turn can help people who are mentally unwell to recover more quickly.
We are concerned, however, that some basic things are not being done properly. That some providers are failing to report on such serious occurrences as seclusion and restraint is appalling and requires immediate attention. As the debate about the use of restraint in mental health settings continues nationally, it is essential that providers know about, reflect on and learn from their own practice.
Staffing levels continue to give us huge cause for concern and the report clearly indicates that mental health services that are understaffed and under-resourced don’t deliver quality care. We know that the NHS is struggling at the moment but inadequate staffing has a huge impact on the mental health not just of patients but of the staff themselves.”