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Mind responds to CQC’s ‘Monitoring the Mental Health Act’ report

Thursday, 01 December 2022 Mind

Today the Care Quality Commission (CQC) released its annual ‘Monitoring the Mental Health Act’ report for 2021-22, in which it outlines ‘serious concerns’ about capacity, staffing issues, longstanding inequalities and gaps in provision.

Both inpatient and community mental health services are facing unsustainable pressures in the wake of the pandemic, and struggling to keep pace with rising demand during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Staffing shortages are now so acute that essential tailored personal support and therapeutic activities are being rolled back, with the report noting that the potential for ‘serious incidents’ is intensified as a result.

Rheian Davies, Head of Mind’s Legal Unit, said:

“Today’s report confirms what we hear from people who have been sectioned, their families and loved ones, and clinicians and staff on an almost daily basis – in its current form, the Mental Health Act is not fit for purpose. It is absolutely shameful that people with some of the most serious mental health problems are routinely let down so badly, and in too many instances even neglected or abused.

“These people often belong to marginalised groups, as we know that Black people are more than 4 times likely to be detained, and detentions are over 3 and a half times higher in the most deprived areas. Just last week, we were horrified at reports of a teenage girl who lived at a police station for more than 2 days after being sectioned, due to a national shortage of specialist mental health beds.

“In recent months we’ve seen a wave of whistleblowing reports emerge from mental health units around the country, exposing the need for widespread cultural and systemic change. From unnecessary use of restraint and seclusion, through to falsification of observation records and physical and verbal abuse, all too often people with mental health problems are being catastrophically failed by the system supposed to look after them. Safety and dignity should not be ambitious or abstract targets – they are the fundamental building blocks of any civilised national health service.

“Mind has been calling for a full statutory public inquiry into inpatient mental health services since September, but the time for talk is now over. We cannot afford any further delay or inaction, as without meaningful intervention it is surely only a matter of time before yet another appalling case of abuse comes to light. The CQC does note some instances of positive improvement in care, particularly in patient involvement and planning, and we know that individual teams are working as hard as they possibly can with extremely limited resources, but an inquiry is essential if we want to see a joined-up approach.

“Today’s damning findings reaffirm the significance of the government’s Draft Mental Health Bill, which aims to bring the Mental Health Act 1983 into the twenty-first century. In our evidence to the Bill’s Joint Committee, Mind made a number of recommendations to give people greater say over the treatment they receive when at their most unwell, including putting an anti-racist principle on the face of the bill, abolishing Community Treatment Orders (CTOs), and an enshrined right to assessment and treatment. We’re clear that the Bill can’t be a silver bullet for the many and complex issues in inpatient crisis care, but must go hand-in-hand with adequate investment into the crumbling mental health estate and rapidly diminishing skilled workforce.”

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