The Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission have issued contrasting verdicts of a survey of acute mental health inpatients published by the regulator today.
While the CQC said the results of the survey of 7,500 people showed there was considerable room for improvement in the experiences of inpatients, the DH interpreted the results more positively.
Hope: ‘Good news’
Care services minister Phil Hope said it was “good news” that 73% of people described their care overall as good, very good or excellent, a statistic not mentioned in the CQC’s press release on the survey.
The CQC said that many people felt let down in some important aspects of the care they received, including two-thirds not feeling they were as involved in their care as they would have liked, while over half had concerns over the safety on wards.
Half of respondents detained
However, Hope pointed out that almost half (44%) of the respondents to the survey had been “detained under the Mental Health Act and had severe mental health problems, which may have affected how safe they felt”.
Community Care also understands that the Department of Health had concerns about the 28% response rate to the survey.
In its introduction to the survey, the CQC said the response rate was “lower than in recent surveys of community mental health service users and is likely to reflect difficulties in reaching the target population and the nature of their illness”.
Very large sample
It added: “Nevertheless, the survey captures the views of a very large sample of recent service users and offers valuable information on hospital inpatient experiences for this group of people.”
Mental health charity Rethink said the findings were “shocking”.
Director of public affairs Paul Corry said: “If they were applied to people receiving treatment for diabetes, cancer or heart disease there would be a national outcry. It is completely unacceptable that people are being denied basic information about their rights, access to physical health care and choice around medicines.
“These figures highlight just how far we have to go to bring mental health care up to the standards found in physical health care.”
Room for improvement
Steve Shrubb, director of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network, which represents the majority of NHS mental health trusts, said: “While overall almost three quarters of patients rate their care as good, very good or excellent, these figures clearly show there is a range of areas requiring improvement.
“We know that the best care is brought about where the service user is fully engaged in the decisions made around their care so this kind of patient feedback is a vital to improving services.”
Healthcare Commission exposes community mental health gaps