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Patients "not well served" by community mental health

People using NHS community mental health services are not involved in planning their care and do not know who to contact in a crisis, a survey published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows. 

A survey of more than 13,500 community mental health service users in England found that most staff "definitely" listened carefully (73%) and "always" treated them with respect and dignity (75%). 

However, the results highlighted that many people (20%) do not feel that they see staff often enough to meet their needs. 

Close to a quarter (23%) have not been told who is in charge of their care, and the same amount have not agreed what care they will receive. 

Twenty-six per cent have not had a formal meeting to discuss how their care is working in the last year. 

And one in three people (32%) did not know who to contact if they have a crisis. When people did know who to contact and had contacted them, 20% of respondents did not get the help they needed. 

Dr Paul Lelliot, deputy chief inspector of hospitals (lead for mental health) said: "It is clear from this survey that many people do not feel well-served by community mental health services. 

"Leaders and staff from mental health trusts should reflect on what they could do differently and better to ensure people are engaged effectively and involved in their care and take action to ensure that people get the help and support they need." 

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind said: “These results are symptomatic of wider mental health care and there is little sign that services are improving for people with mental health problems. While in some areas people get the help they need, when they need it and feel informed about and involved in their care, too often the opposite is the case. We are particularly concerned that a quarter of people had not had a review of their care in the past year. If a service hasn't reviewed a person's care with them, they can't possibly know whether the care they are providing is effective and right for them.

“That one in four people don't always feel treated with respect and dignity by those responsible for their care is completely unacceptable. We all have a right to be treated with compassion and kindness and we know that the relationship between staff and service users can have a huge impact on recovery. The recommendations of the Francis review apply as much to mental health as they do to the rest of the NHS and we need to see significant improvements in this area.

“It is also unacceptable that so many people don't know where to turn when in crisis, and that those who do seek crisis support often find they don't get the help they need. We should expect the same urgent response for mental health as we do for a physical health emergency."