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Community Mental Health survey reveals only 39% felt supported by NHS mental health services

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According to the community mental health survey, 42 per cent felt unsupported during critical waiting periods

The NHS Long Term Plan and NHS Mental Health implementation plan requires the National Health Services to treat mental health with the same urgency as physical health.

However, the recently published Community Mental Health Survey 2023 by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has shed light on the substandard quality of care experienced by individuals in the community across different aspects of care provision.

With feedback from 14,770 respondents including responses from 16- and 17-year-olds, who received treatment for mental health conditions between April 1 and May 31, 2023, the survey outcomes highlight deficiencies in quality of care, crisis intervention, support during waiting periods, care planning, and involvement in decision-making processes.

While some positive findings emerged, such as high levels of satisfaction with medication reviews and privacy during therapy sessions, significant shortcomings remain apparent.

Alarmingly, less than half of respondents (39 per cent) felt they received the necessary assistance during their last interaction with mental health services, and only 50 per cent believed they were allocated sufficient time to discuss their needs and treatment.

Of particular concern were experiences during waiting periods, with nearly 44 per cent reporting deteriorating mental health while awaiting treatment.

Furthermore, 42 per cent of respondents felt unsupported between assessment and initial treatment appointments, with 40 per cent expressing dissatisfaction with waiting times.

For the first time, the survey highlighted respondents using Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), revealing subpar experiences across several domains.

Moreover, discussions on medication side effects and discontinuation were less frequent.

The survey also identified critical areas for improvement, particularly in crisis care and support during waiting periods.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, expressed deep concern over the regulator’s findings, emphasising the pressing need to address the challenges faced by these vital services amidst soaring demand.

“NHS trusts will be very concerned by the regulator’s findings and are determined to do everything they can to give people the care they need in the face of record demand,” he said.

“It’s clear that under-pressure services have more to do to ensure that people get timely, high-quality care and support but to aid trusts’ efforts we need broader, cross-government action to address the gap between demand for mental health care and trusts’ ability to provide it.” he added further.

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