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Room for improvement, according to new findings on mental healthcare

Findings have been published by the Care Quality Commission from the latest survey on patient experience of community mental health services. They show that, two years into a five-year investment and improvement plan, there is still scope for significant improvement.

The survey contributes to NHS England’s Overall Patient Experience Score, which has been updated. There were more than 12,000 respondents, who were seen for mental health conditions last autumn across 56 trusts.

When patients were asked to evaluate their overall experience on a scale of 1 to 10, 64% rated their overall experience of community mental health services as at least 7 out of 10, with 20% of patients giving a score of 10 out of 10, a statistically significant two percentage point increase from 2014 (18%).

Most said that they knew how to contact the person in charge of their care with any concerns. More people also knew who to contact out of hours in a crisis.

However, the survey results suggest scope for further improvements, including in: crisis care, access and coordination of care, involvement in care and monitoring the effects of medication.

All five survey questions with the lowest scores are related to ‘Support and wellbeing’. These questions aim to measure whether mental health services provide patients with the help or support they need in wider aspects of day to day life.

A spokesperson for NHS England said,

Today’s independent analysis shows that overall, patients’ experience of community mental health has been, and remains, consistently high. It is encouraging to see that, even as we expand talking therapies for common mental illness to one million people this year, today’s CQC analysis shows that eight out of ten NHS patients requiring more specialist community care, are getting the treatment they need, in good time,

We are two years in to a five year plan of improvement for mental health services, so there is of course a long way to go to overcome years of under-investment and address the challenges highlighted. However we are making important progress, with funding going up significantly to £9.7b last year, and increasing numbers of people getting quicker access to treatment, closer to home, before their problems escalate.