CQC logoPeople will soon have access to detailed information about the quality and safety of all 56 NHS mental health trusts in England, including where improvements are needed, as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has now inspected all of them using it new regulatory approach.

The new model inspections are intelligence-driven and based on what matters most to people who use services. They answer the questions: are services safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well-led? The inspections rate services as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

Now that all mental health NHS trusts have been inspected at least once, CQC is establishing a quality baseline of the country’s mental healthcare services, which it is using to drive improvements across the system and to inform how it regulates in future.

So far, CQC has rated 47 of the 56 mental health trusts. Thirty have been rated as ‘requires improvement’, while 17 are good. One has been rated as inadequate: Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – currently in special measures. None has yet been rated as outstanding.

CQC will continue to publish the inspection reports and ratings for the remaining 9 NHS mental health trusts over the next few months. Once all have been rated, CQC will analyse the full findings to date, to draw national conclusions about the quality and safety of specialist mental healthcare in the NHS, so that the system understands what is working well and what needs to improve. 

Dr Paul Lelliott, deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health) said: “I am grateful for the hard work undertaken by our teams in completing the first round of our comprehensive inspection programme on schedule, and for the way in which providers have engaged with the inspections.

“During these inspections, I am encouraged that we have seen some good care and we have met many thousands of staff who are compassionate and dedicated to providing the best support and treatment they possibly can for their patients.

“However, the emerging picture is that there are too many NHS mental health trusts that provide care that requires improvement before it can be considered fully safe, effective and responsive to people’s needs. 

“Staff do not always provide care that is patient-centred, nor do they always fully respect people’s rights or fully involve them in decisions about their treatment and support. Too much inpatient care is being provided in outdated buildings that do not meet modern standards. These concerns can have a serious impact on a person’s recovery from a serious mental health problem.

“We expect providers to take these concerns on board, to learn from those we have rated Good, and to do everything within their power to ensure people get the safe, high-quality and compassionate care they deserve.”

This announcement comes as CQC continues with its strategy for the next five years, which builds on what it has learnt from its comprehensive inspection programme and sets out plans for a more targeted, responsive and collaborative approach to regulation. This will include making greater use of focused and unannounced inspections, which will target areas where its insight suggests there is the greatest risk to patients. Also, CQC will work with providers to help them monitor and report on their own quality more effectively and understand what is expected of them.