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Mind responds to CQC’s Mental Health Act report

Thursday, 21 March 2024 Mind

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), England’s independent regulator of health and social care, has today released its annual report about the use of the Mental Health Act.

The report looks at how mental health providers are caring for patients, and whether patients’ rights are being protected. As well as making a number of recommendations for the future of mental health care, the report has highlighted several areas of concern, including:

  • Widespread workforce issues, with retention and staffing shortage issues impacting the safety of both patients and staff
  • People not having a say into the kinds of treatment they receive, or knowing their rights well enough
  • An increase in demand for care, particularly among children and young people, who are more likely to wait longer, as well as receive care in inappropriate settings far from home
  • Systemic racial injustices in the use of the Mental Health Act, with Black people 3.5 times more likely to be detained than white patients
  • The persistence of too many abusive and closed cultures in mental health services.

Responding to the report, Dr Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Mind, said:

“Such a damning report should be a wake-up call to usher in urgent changes to the way we look after people in mental health crisis – but this has now become the new normal. Today's report shows why now more than ever, we should be supporting people in crisis, not bothering or belittling them for trying to get the right support as we’ve seen in recent political rhetoric.

“Mental health services, and the people working within them, are now so squeezed that there is simply no ‘give’ left in the system. The most recent figures show more than 50,000 people were sectioned under the Mental Health Act last year, meaning they were so unwell they could not keep themselves or others safe. In its current form, the Mental Health Act also enables the institutionally racist treatment of Black people, who are 3.5 times more likely to be detained and face greater risk of restrictive practices.

“People living with serious mental health problems, like psychosis, bipolar disorder or suicidal thoughts, deserve timely, compassionate and effective care to recover, close to their homes and loved ones. Instead, people are losing their lives because the system that is supposed to look after them can’t treat them quickly or safely enough, or somewhere close to their support networks.

 “The current UK government has today finally responded to the Joint Committee on the draft Mental Health Bill, over a year after the Committee’s final report, but still failed to include reforms to the Mental Health Act in the King’s Speech. While the government continues to avert its eyes from this mounting crisis, staff on the ground are doing their very best with extremely limited resources and unprecedented demand.

"With a steady stream of horrific whistleblowing stories emerging about abuse and neglect in mental health hospitals, whoever forms the next government at the upcoming General Election must prioritise raising the standard of mental health crisis care, including essential reform of the Mental Health Act.”

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