Mental health trusts to be inspected according to risk

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Today (Thursday 20 November) and for the first time, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published information on every Mental Health NHS trust in England to show the public how it decides which services it will inspect next and what it will focus on.

The information is CQC’s analysis of 59 different sources of evidence, ranging from concerns raised by healthcare staff, bed occupancy rates, to staff and patient surveys.

CQC collects this evidence to help plan its inspection activities and to show the NHS and the public how it works and where it could have concerns in these topics.

This analysis shows that the majority of Mental Health NHS trusts in England appear to be of low concern.

While this is not a judgment of their performance, it is a positive indication about what the quality of their care could be like.

CQC will use this analysis to guide its inspections from April. CQC can only judge the performance of a mental health NHS trusts once it has carried out an inspection of whether its services are safe, caring, effective, responsive to people’s needs and well-led.

Of the 57 Mental Health NHS Trusts in England, CQC has placed 40 of these into bands from one to four (highest perceived risk to lowest perceived risk).

Of the 40 trusts within these bands, over a third (15) of the trusts is in band four. Five are in band one.

Dr Paul Lelliott Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (lead for mental health) said: “We have developed this ‘intelligent monitoring’ tool to give our inspection teams a clear indication of the aspects of care that may warrant further investigation on their inspections.

“While the bandings are not judgements of quality, we hope NHS trusts will use our analysis to reflect on where they may need to improve.

“It is encouraging that of the mental health NHS trusts within bands, over a third is of lowest concern.

“Those that give us the greatest concern will be prioritised for inspection so that we can be confident people receive safe, high-quality and compassionate care.”

Of the 40 banded mental health trusts, 5 are in band one, 16 are in band two, 2 are in band three and 16 are in band four, which is the band where there is the lowest concern according to the data.

While this is the first time that CQC has published ‘intelligent monitoring’ for mental health NHS trusts, CQC has been publishing this analysis for acute NHS trusts since last October, which it updates every three months. Earlier this week, it published the first ‘intelligent monitoring’ information for general practices following the publication of its first two inspection reports of Outstanding general practices in England.

Mental Health NHS trusts care for people with serious mental health problems and offer services, such as counselling and other psychological therapies, community and family support, and general health screening.

Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb, said: ““People with mental illness deserve the best possible care. These initial figures give a useful indication of varying standards around the country. By highlighting both good and bad, we can drive up standards everywhere.”

Dr Katherine Rake OBE Chief Executive of Healthwatch England said: “It comes as no surprise that access to beds and the general quality of mental health facilities have both been flagged by this report. Patients and their loved ones have been raising these concerns with local Healthwatch right across the country for some time.

“Five of the country’s mental health trusts fall into the CQC’s highest risk category and action must be taken now to ensure that patients of these facilities in question are accessing quality care.

“We hope that armed with this new intelligence, the inspectors will be able to target their efforts. It is critical that standards are driven up to ensure everyone has access to the same high quality care.”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said: “One in four of us will experience a mental health problem next year and those of us who seek help for our mental health have the right to expect safe, speedy access to the services we need, when we need them. While we know that in some parts of the country services are very good, in too many places services are failing people when they are unwell. We are pleased to see that the CQC is looking to listen to the views of both staff and people who use services and making the most of the intelligence available to really get behind the scenes of mental health services.”

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