CQC logoThere has been ‘no notable improvement’ in treatment and care in the community for people with mental health problems in the past year, and in some aspects more people have reported poor experiences, according to a survey of more than 13,000 people.

In light of this, the regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), is now calling for NHS trusts to reflect on their findings and improve their care.

The annual survey, led by the CQC, assessed people’s experiences of the care and support they receive from community mental health services run by NHS trusts in England, such as in clinics and in their own homes for conditions ranging from mild depression to psychosis. The survey does not cover the care people have received for their mental health problems from general practices. It asks for their views on aspects of their care, such as whether they felt they were treated with dignity and respect and on whether they felt involved in decisions about their care. 

When people were asked to rate their overall experience of their community mental health care on a scale of 0 to 10, a higher proportion of people reported a poorer experience compared to last year; 28% rated it as five or lower, compared to 25% in 2014.

Also, a slightly higher proportion of people than last year reported that they did not feel listened to by staff (7%, up from 5% in 2014), did not feel they were given enough time to discuss their needs and treatments (11% up from 9% in 2014), and did not feel they were treated with dignity and respect (7%, up from 6% in 2014). 

While the survey has not shown improvement from last year’s results, there are many questions that people have responded to positively about their care and treatment. For example:

96% of people reported that they knew how to contact the person in charge of organising their care and services, if they have a concern about their care

70% reported that they ‘definitely’ felt listened to by the person or people they saw (2014: 73%)

78% of people on long-term medication reported that they had had this reviewed (the same as in 2014), meaning that 22% did not

73% reported that they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity (2014: 75%).

Dr Paul Lelliott deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health) said it was “disappointing” that there was no notable improvement from last year’s survey. “In particular, the fact that over a quarter of people reported a poor experience of their care is worrying and must be acted on,” he said. 

“Community mental health services play a vital role in supporting people with their mental health problems without needing to stay in hospital.  It is imperative that the NHS gets this right. 

“We urge all NHS trusts and in particular those that have performed poorly to reflect on what the survey tells them about what their patients think of their services act on the findings.

“We will consider the results of this survey in our inspections so that we can be confident that people receive the safe, high-quality and compassionate care they deserve.”