Charities claim new mental health star ratings are too positive

Leading mental health charities have criticised the indicative
star ratings for mental heath trusts as painting “too positive” a
picture, writes David Brown.

Ratings of two or three stars, the top two grades, were awarded
to 71 of the 86 mental health trusts (see below). This compares
with 58 of England’s 150 social services departments, which
were awarded their first stars in May.

The government hailed the results as proof that services were
improving, adding that the three-star trusts would receive up to
£1 million, and would have greater financial freedom.

But Cliff Prior, chief executive of Rethink (formerly the
National Schizophrenia Fellowship), said: “People who use mental
health services will be surprised to see such positive results – it
simply is not the experience they have.”

The ratings were based on 16 key targets and focus areas. Key
targets were judged as achieved, underachieved or significantly
underachieved. Focus criteria were ranked from five (significantly
above average) to one (significantly below average).

A number of trusts awarded two stars – supposedly
indicating they had performed well overall – had
significantly underachieved on one of the six “key targets” or had
been significantly below average on at least one of the 10 focus

Some trusts received two stars despite information not being
available for more than a third of the 16 criteria.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity
SANE, said that its recent survey of psychiatrists and the calls to
its helpline painted a “far gloomier picture” of mental health

“[The ratings] highlight the absurdity of performance measures
for people with enduring mental illness who need time, space and
activity rather than a quick turnover,” she said.

Mental health charities Mind and the Mental Health Foundation
welcomed the ratings, but said they wanted to see more indicators
tie in with the national service framework and focus on users’
experiences, such as 24-hour access to care.

Health secretary Alan Milburn admitted: “There will be quibbles
about the way trusts have been rated. While the system is not
perfect, it is improving.”

Mental health trust star ratings:

Three stars:

Barnsley Community and Priority Services trust

Dorset Health Care trust

Guild Community Healthcare trust, Preston

South Birmingham Mental Health trust

Two stars:

The remaining 67 trusts.

One star:

Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health trust

Brent, Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster Mental Health

Camden and Islington Mental Health trust

East London and The City Mental Health trust

Leeds Community and Mental Health Services Teaching trust

Leicestershire and Rutland Healthcare trust

Local Heath Partnerships trust, Ipswich

Norfolk Mental Health Care trust

North Essex Mental Health Partnership trust

North West Anglia Health Care trust

Shropshire’s Community and Mental Health Services trust

South Essex Mental Health and Community Care trust

West Hampshire trust

Zero stars:

Bedfordshire and Luton Community trust

South Warwickshire Combined Care trust





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