Charities claim mental health trusts’ star ratings mask the true picture

Leading mental health charities have criticised the star ratings
for mental heath services as painting “too positive” a picture.

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

The government hailed the results as proof that services were
improving, adding that the three-star trusts would each receive up
to £1m 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. Criteria were ranked from five (significantly above
average) to one (significantly below average).

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

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of 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
services. “[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 said: “There will be quibbles
about the way trusts have been rated. While the system is not
perfect, it is improving.” He also announced the criteria that will
allow the best performing hospitals to apply for foundation status,
freeing themselves from Whitehall control. Similar freedoms are
eventually expected for the best local government services.

The criteria for foundation status include evidence of high
standards of clinical care, high quality management and
joint-working arrangements with other organisations.

Mental health 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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