Crisis resolution teams struggle to make impact

A National Audit Office report reveals that mental health crisis resolution home treatment (CRHT) teams are struggling to provide services for people living in the community.

CRHT teams provide acute care for people with mental health problems, who live in the community, as an alternative to being admitted to hospital for emergency treatment.

Despite praising CRHT services for making a “positive impact” on reducing inpatient admissions, the NAO’s review of 500 hospital admissions found only half had received a CRHT assessment.

CRHT services also failed to be multi-disciplinary, with half of the teams across England receiving no input from an approved social worker and one-third receiving no input from a dedicated consultant psychiatrist.

Staffing levels varied across the country with only three regions meeting their full functioning capacity of 14 staff per 150,000 people.

Majorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said: “Despite the additional spending on mental health in England monies are still not reaching the front line, leaving people in critical need without care.”

CRHT services were introduced in the 1999 National Service Framework for Mental Health and were made a national priority in the NHS Plan (2000). In 2002, the Department of Health set out national targets for the number of teams and people treated by CRHT teams in its Public Service Agreement.

The DH met its target to establish 335 teams in England by 2005 but missed the target by 25 per cent to treat 100,000 people a year.

The NAO estimates that the government needs to invest a further £10-30m annually to increase CRHT teams’ capacity and improve multi-disciplinary input.

Further information
Helping people through mental health crisis: The role of Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment services

Contact the author

Caroline Lovell

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