This site is intended for health professionals only

Mental health patients 'lack day-to-day support'

More than a third of people with mental health issues asking for support for their physical health went without help, a survey by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows.

Thirty-six percent of survey respondents who needed support from someone in NHS mental health services with getting help for their physical health needs said that they had not received support - up from 31% in 2011.

Furthermore, of those patients with complex mental health needs and being cared for within the Care Programme Approach (CPA) framework, many are not receiving the help they are entitled to.

Despite policy guidance stating patients on the CPA should receive support with day-to-day matters such as employment, housing and financial advice, 34% had not received help from professionals working in NHS mental health services with finding or keeping work, 24% had no support in finding or keeping accommodation and 26% went without financial guidance.

However, more patients on CPA now have a care plan in place and understand it.

For those mental health patients not on CPA, the survey found two fifths continue to claim they do not have a care plan (40%) and there has been a decrease in the proportion who say they “definitely” understand what is in their care plan - 27%, down from 29% in 2011.

On a brighter note and continuing the trend from last year's survey, the majority of patients surveyed said they “definitely” had enough time with their health worker during their last encounter and that they were treated with both respect and dignity.

“While there is evidence of progress, there is more to do,” said David Behan, Chief Executive of the CQC.

“One of the objectives in the policy No Health Without Mental health is that more people with mental health problems will have good physical health. The fact that this survey has shown some people who need this support are not getting access to this, and other support for aspects of day to day living such as employment, housing and financial advice is something the NHS need to address.”

“Trusts should look at these results carefully and consider whether, firstly, they are assessing people's needs properly in the context of the CPA policy, and secondly, whether they are giving them the appropriate level of support.”

The CQC's 2012 survey was distributed by 61 NHS mental health trusts in England and captured the experiences of more than 15,000 mental health patients.