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CQC Publish Annual Report on Mental Health Act 2017/18

Care Quality Commission have today published their annual report on the use of the Mental Health Act – Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2017/18, looking at how providers are caring for patients and whether patients’ rights are being protected.

It has concluded that there has been an overall improvement in some aspects of care in 2016 to 2018, compared with findings in 2014 to 2016. They found:

  • Some improvement in the quality of care planning and patient involvement. A higher proportion of care plans are detailed, comprehensive and developed in collaboration with patients and carers.  However, there is still considerable room for further improvement.
  • The provision of information about legal rights to patients and relatives is still the most frequently raised issue from visits. In many cases, patients may struggle to understand information given to them on admission because they are most ill at this point.
  • The greatest concern from Mental Health Act monitoring visits is about the quality and safety of mental health wards; in particular acute wards for adults of working age.

The Mental Health Act 1983, a legal framework, provides authority for hospitals to detain and treat people who have a serious mental disorder and who are putting at risk their health or safety, or the safety of other people. The MHA also provides more limited community-based powers, called community treatment orders and guardianships. CQC’s role is to check that patients’ human rights are being protected, and look at how services in England are applying the MHA safeguards through visits to see how mental health services are supporting patients, make sure providers have effective systems and processes to meet the MHA, and check that staff are being supported to understand and meet the standards set out in the Code.

During 2017/18, CQC worked with the advisory panel for the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act and will be contributing to implementing the recommendations made in the report which was published in December 2018.

Kathy Roberts, Chief Executive, Association of Mental Health Providers, commented:

“We are pleased there has been improvement in the quality of care planning and how patients are involved in their care but concerned that many wards, in which people are detained under the MHA are unsafe and provide poor quality care. It is important that recommendations outlined in the recently published Mental Health Act review report are acted upon to ensure that practice and care is improved. 

“We would emphasise the importance of providers, commissioners, and national bodies working closely with the voluntary sector to ensure people are receiving appropriate care and treatment under the MHA, and services which are of a high-quality and are effective.” 

Read the full report here.