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Lack of community care may be behind mental health detentions rise, CQC finds

Lack of community care may be behind mental health detentions rise, CQC finds

The reduced access to community mental health services during the Covid-19 pandemic may have contributed to a rise in people being sectioned, the CQC has found.

The CQC report on the Mental Health Act (MHA), published last week, underlined the importance of community services after finding a 4.5% increase in the use of the MHA to detain people with mental health problems in hospital for assessment and treatment in 2020/21.

A lack of community care and ‘poor’ commissioning decisions has also led people with a learning disability and autistic people admitted to hospitals far from home for long periods, it added.

It found over a third of the patients with autism or a learning disability reviewed had been in hospital for between 10 and 30 years. One patient had been stable and living in the community for 20 years was admitted to hospital because the provider failed to follow the care plan for him.

‘Sufficient community investment needed’

The report identified community services as key to ‘reducing levels of detention in hospital’ under the MHA. This includes for people with a learning disability and autistic people for whom hospitals are ‘often not therapeutic’ environments, it found.

The CQC stressed that the Government’s ambition to reduce hospital admissions for people with a learning disability and autistic people under the MHA ‘can only be achieved with sufficient investment in community resources’ including training staff.

The report also found black people are over four times more likely than white people to be detained under the MHA and have more repeated admissions, while detention rates in the most deprived areas are three and half time higher than in the least deprived areas.

Jemima Burnage, CQC’s deputy chief inspector and lead for mental health, concluded: ‘Some community mental health services are rebuilding after the pandemic, but others are not yet in a recovery stage, in part because of staff shortages and staff burnout.

‘Longstanding inequalities when accessing mental health care also remain a serious concern, with black or black British people, and people in deprived communities being far more likely to be detained under the MHA.’

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