Association of Mental Health Providers

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CQC Publish Annual Report on Mental Health Act

Care Quality Commission have today published their annual report on the use of the Mental Health Act – Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2016/17, looking at how providers are caring for patients and whether patients’ rights are being protected. The number of people detained in hospital under the MHA has increased in recent years and the proportion of detained to informal patients continues to rise.

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.

The report shows that CQC have seen limited or no improvement in key areas raised in previous years. CQC found no evidence of:

  • patient involvement in 32% of care plans reviewed;
  • patient’s view being taken into consideration in 31%;
  • consideration of the patient’s needs, or the least restrictive options for care, in 17% of care plans;
  • discharge planning in 24% of care plans.

CQC also found that delays in accessing beds are creating difficult situations where patients are left untended in the community, or held in police custody without lawful authority. In January this year, a CQC review also concluded that there is no single reason why more detentions are being made under the Mental Health Act than ever before, and the rise may be symptomatic of a system ‘under considerable strain’,

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

“There is good practice in many different types of mental health services but there is a lot of room for improvement when more and more people are being detained under the MHA, yet their views are not being taken under consideration almost a third of the time. Looking at the figures highlighted [above], it is concerning that there is such limited patient involvement and consideration of views and needs, and we hope the review of the legislation which is currently underway addresses some of these issues and the challenges highlighted in this report. We  look forward to seeing the recommendations from Professor Sir Simon Wessely’s review on how practice can be improved.

“In challenging times such as these, it is also important for providers, commissioners, and national bodies to work closely with the voluntary sector to ensure people are receiving appropriate care and treatment under the MHA, services which are of a high-quality and are effective.” 

Read the full report here.