“Unacceptable” gaps in mental health crisis care

12 June 2015

A&E

The Care Quality Commission, the UK’s largest health watchdog, has today released a report warning of “unacceptable” gaps in mental health crisis care.

Public services are being urged to “wake up” as the regulator’s findings revealed that A&E staff appeared to lack compassion and warmth in how they cared for people having a crisis, particularly those who had self-harmed.

"One of the clearest findings from our call for evidence was that people are not satisfied with how A&E departments respond to people in crisis," the document said.

"While we recognise the pressure that A&E departments are under, it does not excuse the fact that this figure remains unacceptably low.

"Feedback from people who came into contact with the police showed the service in a more positive light than many of the specialist mental health services. It is encouraging that a professional working outside of specialist services can get it right and this should act as a challenge to those working in the health service to do the same."

Disparity between physical and mental health care

CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospital and mental health lead Dr Paul Lelliott condemned the disparity between patient satisfaction levels in physical and mental health services.

"It is not acceptable for people with mental health problems to be treated differently to those with physical health problems," he said.

"The majority of people who have a mental health crisis experience it out of normal office hours, and so the NHS and our other public services must make sure they are equipped to provide the specialist and urgent care that is needed around the clock.

"What's more, we found that when people do receive help, hospital and mental healthcare staff are not always compassionate and caring.

"Worryingly, many people told us that when they were having a crisis, they often felt the police and ambulance crews were more caring and took their concerns more seriously than the medical and mental health professionals they encountered."

As well as warning about healthcare disparity, the report called on local care providers to confront serious questions about whether they provide a safe service.

According to the HuffingtonPost, Care Minister Alistair Burt has said that the government was trying to tackle the problems identified in the report with its new treatment targets and additional funding.

However, just a few weeks ago it was revealed that trusts were forecasting significant funding cuts over the next four years, with services expected to see gross income decrease by 8 percent in real terms.

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