Healthcare Commission: Mental health trusts on the up

The Healthcare Commission’s annual NHS health check has diagnosed a big improvement in the performance of England’s mental health services.

In a review of all 391 NHS trusts in England, the commission rated 66% of mental health trusts as providing an “excellent” service compared with 52% in last year’s report.

In all, 84% were rated as either “excellent” or “good”. Just 8% were rated as either “fair” or “weak” compared to 23% last year.

Mental health trusts are best performers

Mental health trusts were also found to have fared significantly better than either primary care trusts or acute services. However, the commission admitted that assessments for mental health trusts were “less demanding” than for other trusts.

Lisa Rodrigues, chair of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, said that the commission needed to “raise the bar” for mental health. She added: “Mental health services are coming increasingly under the public spotlight, and we welcome more scrutiny. We are not complacent, and we know that improvements must continue.”

National charity Rethink criticised the government’s national targets for sidelining mental health. Director of public affairs Paul Corry said: “Lets get some decent mental health measures into the successor body to the Healthcare Commission for a true picture of how the one in four people with mental illness are treated.”

Commission disappointed with PCTs

The commission said it was disappointed with the performance of primary care trusts, with just 33% being rated as “excellent” or “good” for the quality of their services, an improvement of 7% over last year’s figure.

Commission chair Ian Kennedy said: “The primary care sector has improved, but more is needed as this sector delivers 88% of healthcare.”

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