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Mental health services ‘remain rooted in the past’, finds report

Published on 20/07/17 at 09:18am

A three year report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found that though compassionate care is being offered broadly by mental health services, areas of concern are linked to facilities struggling with low staff numbers.

This has meant that some people are being kept ‘locked in’ to facilities for years at a time, instead of being offered rehabilitation to go onto live within a community or being offered support in their own homes.

The report found that more than 3,500 beds in locked facilities across services but this form of care was sometimes unnecessary and often located far from the patients’ homes. It found, in exceptional circumstances, that patients were sometimes being held in this type of facility for four years.

Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector, Lead for Mental Health, said of the findings: “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. Some services remain rooted in the past – providing care that is over-restrictive and that is not tailored to each person’s individual needs."

In findings that raise questions about private providers of NHS care, the study found that a majority of the 3,500 beds that were locked in were within privately run organisations – despite these accounting for the care of a lower proportion of patients.

There could be multiple reasons for this, for example, that different levels of care are being offered between NHS trusts and privately-run facilities, but there are questions over whether patients are being kept long-term to maximise income.

Another area found to be a particular weakness were the waits faced by those referred to memory services for the diagnosis of dementia. With 22% having to 11-18 weeks for assessment, and a further 20% facing a wait of more than 18 weeks.

There was also cause for concern over safety, as 40% of NHS services were rated as either “inadequate” or “requires improvement” in this area. Again, this point was linked to staff levels, as the services face a fall of 12%, since 2010, in mental health nurses and psychiatrists.

The major positive of the study were levels of being caring and compassionate towards patients, with 88% of NHS and 93% of independent services being rated as good.

Ben Hargreaves

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