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CQC aims to improve community mental health

Greater emphasis will be placed on the care that people with mental health problems receive in the community, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has revealed. 

The health rector regulator will be focusing more on people's experiences of care in the community, including of people on community treatment orders. The new approach will also look at how other organisations work with community mental health services to support recovery. 

More than 1.5 million adults used community mental health services last year. Complaints made by service users will be a key source of information in the inspections and people. Service users will also be asked to help the CQC formulate its new approach, together with mental health experts. 

The regulator will also introduce ratings for specialist mental health services that reflect the reality of the care people receive. Ratings are intended to drive improvements, making it clear that people should expect services that are good, not services that only aspire to meet minimum standards.

Professor Sir Mike Richards, CQC's chief inspector of Hospitals, said: “The needs of people with mental health problems run through all the areas that CQC regulates and we have recognised that we need to strengthen our approach to regulating specialist mental health services to ensure that people get care that is safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs and well led. 

“Our new approach will bring together both strands of CQC's work in relation to mental health - our work under the Mental Health Act and how we regulate mental health services.

“I am appointing a Deputy Chief Inspector for Mental Health who will work with me, leading expert inspection teams who will spend more time listening to people who use services, carers and staff.”

Minister for Care and Support Services Normal Lamb said: “We are determined to reach a point where mental health has equal priority with physical health on the NHS.

“Improving inspections of mental health services plays a key part to this - the new Chief and Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals will help root out poor mental health care and point to interventions when things need to be put right.  Introducing specialist inspectors and new ratings will also help drive up standards across the board and improve care.”