Many mental health patients unaware of their care co-ordinator

An increasing number of mental health patients do not know who their care co-ordinator is, according to the Care Quality Commission's latest survey of people using community mental health services. CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower (pictured) raised concerns that many service users felt some of their needs were not being met.

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An increasing number of mental health patients do not know who their care co-ordinator is, according to the Care Quality Commission’s latest survey of people using community mental health services.

Twelve per cent of patients on the care programme approach (CPA) did not know who their lead professional was, while 28% of those not on the CPA did not know the name of their care co-ordinator. Last year, the figures were 10% and 27% respectively.

Those who could identify their care co-ordinator were generally positive, with 72% saying they could always contact them. Most said their co-ordinator organised their care either “very well” (61%) or “quite well” (31%).

Cynthia Bower, CQC chief executive, said this year’s survey of 17,000 patients showed people were happy with some aspects of services but “many found that some of their needs were not fully met”.

“I know we are entering a period when resources may be stretched even further than they have been before, but I urge all those who provide community mental health services to strive to maintain, and where possible raise, the levels of care,” she said.

“I also call on commissioners of services to study the survey results and use the levers that are available to them to improve outcomes for people who use these services.”

Bower pointed out that the majority (86%) of those who took part in the survey had not spent any time in hospital in the previous 12 months, underlining the importance of mental health services in the community.

About one in six respondents on CPA said they did not have a care plan, while nearly two-fifths of those not on CPA said they were without one. The survey also revealed scope for improving service users’ understanding of their care plans, with 44% of those on CPA and 29% not on CPA saying they “definitely” understood it.

Access to services was another point of concern, with 14% of service users who were not provided with talking therapies reporting that they had requested this service.

Fifty-three per cent of respondents said an NHS mental health or social care worker had discussed talking therapy with them in the previous 12 months. The rest said they had not been asked about this service.

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