Headlines: October 27th, 2010

The Care Quality Commission is today promising to use its regulatory powers to bring about improvements in services for patients who are subject to the Mental Health Act. In its first annual report on the use of the Act it highlights areas of poor practice.

The CQC says its findings have raised important concerns about how some care providers, in both the NHS and the private sector, are abiding by the principles of the legislation and its Code of Practice. It has identified three priority areas where it wants services needed to do much better. They are involving patients in decisions about their care and treatment, assessing and recording patients’ consent and minimising restrictions on patients and avoiding ‘blanket’ security measures.

Cynthia Bower, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said people working in mental health services did not always get the recognition they deserved and many of those under their care might owe their very survival to the dedication and compassion of staff and managers both in hospitals and out in the community.

She added: “But we have found too much poor and unacceptable practice and this must be tackled. Our top priority is to protect the interests of patients, and we will use our powers to ensure that care providers address these issues and make real improvements.”

The report CQC also analyses how Community Treatment Orders are working. They were introduced in November 2008 particularly for patients who, on being discharged from hospital, might refuse to take medication or co-operate with community mental health services. Last year more than 4,000 people were made subject to the orders, at least 10 times more than the number predicted by the Department of Health when the orders were introduced. One in five patients was recalled to hospital.