State of Care report raises serious concerns about mental health inpatient services requiring urgent government attention, says Centre for Mental Health

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15 October 2019

The Care Quality Commission’s State of Care Report presents a worrying picture about inpatient mental health services in England, Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said today.

The State of Care Report is a reminder of the urgent need for continued investment in both community and inpatient mental health services, and for the vital changes in the law recommended by Sir Simon Wessely’s independent Mental Health Act Review

Responding to the CQC’s conclusion that mental health inpatient services are ‘deteriorating’, with growing numbers of units for children, adults and people with learning disabilities or autism rated inadequate, Sarah Hughes said: “The State of Care Report is a reminder of the urgent need for continued investment in both community and inpatient mental health services, and for the vital changes in the law recommended by Sir Simon Wessely’s independent Mental Health Act Review.

“It is worrying that a growing proportion of inpatient services are being rated inadequate. While these remain a minority, it is unacceptable that people at their most vulnerable and frightened are being admitted, sometimes compulsorily, into places that do not provide the care and support we would all expect when we need it most.

“The report cites a reduction in inpatient beds and staff in recent years which have not been matched by the necessary expansion in community mental health services to prevent hospital admissions and help people at home. This puts people at a greater risk of being admitted to hospital away from their local area, and of delaying the return home if support isn’t available.

It is unacceptable that people at their most vulnerable and frightened are being admitted, sometimes compulsorily, into places that do not provide the care and support we would all expect when we need it most

“The NHS Long-Term Plan has made a clear and unambiguous commitment to invest in more and better community mental health services. This important and welcome pledge should help to ensure that more people get help for their mental health without going to hospital. It must now be matched by the Government investing in upgrading the NHS mental health estate, ending the use of dormitory wards and reliance on long-stay, out-of-area hospital beds for people with the most complex and long-term needs. And it requires investment in public health, housing and social care services to keep people well and support recovery.

“Concerted action is also required to offer improved support to people with learning disabilities and autism who get admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act, often for protracted periods of time. This will require significant attention to develop effective support, wherever possible outside hospital and without the use of compulsion.”

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