Headlines: October 8th, 2009

A mental health survey of people’s experiences reveals that many hospital patients feel let down by the care they receive. The mental health survey was carried out by the Quality Care Commission.

Mental health is a widespread problem, often described as the Cinderella of the health service. One in four adults and one in five children experience a mental health problem each year. A third of GPs’ time is spent dealing with mental health issues and a third of people on incapacity benefit have a mental or behavioural problem. It is estimated that some 13 million working days are lost due to stress-related illness each year.

The survey revealed that only a third of respondents who received hospital care felt as involved in decisions about their care and treatment as much as they wanted to be. Less than half ‘always’ felt safe on the ward, and 16 per cent did not feel safe at all. Less than half of the 52 per cent who wanted talking therapies, such as counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and anxiety management, actually received any.

The Care Quality Commission chair, Barbara Young said: “As the care services regulator, we have pledged to ensure that the voices of everyone who uses care services are heard. This survey shows us that there is considerable room for improvement in patients’ experiences of acute inpatient mental health services, and that there remains a particular need to ensure that services are focused on meeting the needs of people as individuals.