Health February 26, 2019
Safety concerns remain despite improvements in mental health services, says CQC

By News Feature - Accountable Care Journal

A new report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found 'some improvement in the quality of care planning for patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act. ' However, quality and safety concerns remain on mental health wards.

The review, which took place throughout 2017 and 2018, involved 1,165 visits to mental health wards to meet thousands of patients and staff to review care, in line with CQC's annual report to Parliament on how services are applying the Mental Health Act. While services have improved overall since 2016, Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals for the CQC, observed that "many of the wards in which people are detained under the Mental Health Act are unsafe and provide poor quality care."


Findings of 'Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2017/18'

  • Some improvement in the quality of care planning and patient involvement. A higher proportion of care plans are detailed, comprehensive and developed in collaboration with patients and carers. However, there is still considerable room for further improvement.
  • The provision of information about legal rights to patients and relatives is still the most frequently raised issue from visits. In many cases, patients may struggle to understand the information given to them on admission because they are most ill at this point.
  • The greatest concern from Mental Health Act monitoring visits is about the quality and safety of mental health wards; in particular acute wards for adults of working age.

Full report can be viewed here.


Dr Lelliott continued; "the independent review of the Mental Health Act recommends that we revise the criteria used to assess the physical and social environments of mental health wards. We welcome this recommendation and will be looking at how we can work with partners to take this forward to ensure that mental health inpatient services are providing a fit environment for safe and dignified care."

This is likely to fall in line with broader changes across the sector as measures outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan are implemented.

As part of the review, CQC received 2,319 complaints and enquiries about the way the Mental Health Act was applied to patients and CQC Mental Health Act Assessors requested 6,049 actions required from providers to change the way care was being delivered to patients.

During 2017/18, CQC worked with the advisory panel for the Independent Review of the Mental Health Act and will be contributing to implementing the recommendations made in the report which was published in December 2018.


The Mental Health Act 1983 is the legal framework that authorises hospitals to detain and treat people who have serious mental health needs and who are putting their own health or safety, or of other people, at risk of harm. CQC has a duty to monitor and report on how services do this.


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