CQC logoMental health service users’ experiences of being cared for in the community have not improved in the past year, according to a new report.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) annual survey of community mental healthcare, which is based on the views of more than 13,000 people – with issues ranging from depression to psychosis – canvased in 2016 found that 35% reported that their overall experience of care was poor, rating it as 6 or below out of 10. This is similar to the results in 2015 (36%) and 2014 (34%). 

Also, 32% said that did not know who to contact out of office hours if they have a crisis. Furthermore, 24% of those people who went on to try and contact that person or team because their condition was getting worse said that they did not get the help they needed during a mental health crisis. This compares to 21% for 2014.

But the report also highlighted positive aspects of people’s mental healthcare in the community. For example, 74% of respondents said that they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity and 76% reported that they had been told who was in charge of organising their care and services. Of these people, 97% said that they knew how to contact this person if they had a concern.

The CQC collected the survey findings from 58 providers of mental health services in the community such as in specialist clinics and in peoples own homes. One provider – NAVIGO Health and Social Care CIC (CQC rating good) in Lincolnshire – was significantly better than other providers within the survey from people who use their services. 

However, 4 providers performed significantly worse than other providers within the survey based on their collective responses. They are: Isle of Wight NHS Trust, West London Mental Health NHS Trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust. All were rated as requiring improvement.

The CQC has written to these NHS trusts today to urge them to review their results and to outline what actions they will take to address the areas of concern. The regulator will review their progress on their next planned inspections.

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health), said: "There are around 1.7 million people across the country who are currently being funded by the NHS, for treatment for a mental health condition in the community funded by the NHS. These services are vital in supporting their recoveries and preventing their conditions from deteriorating. 

"While the survey results highlight many positive aspects of care, I am deeply concerned by the lack of improvement overall in trusts in England.

"I am grateful for the 13,000 people who took the time to share their experiences. Providers of community mental health services must now take the time to review what they have said and to act on any areas of concern. 

"I have written to the four providers that have been identified as performing worse than other providers within the survey for their reassurance on what they propose to do in response. 

"People’s feedback is a vital way of identifying problems and improving care. We will check up on how these trusts are progressing during our next planned inspections."

NAVIGO featured in Mental Health Today back in 2013. To read the feature, click here