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CQC report highlights concerns about hospitals' mental health care

Varied knowledge of Mental Health Act code risks breach of patients' rights

Knowledge of the Mental Health Act’s code of practice varies too widely among hospital staff according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

In its new Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2014/15 report, the inspectors outline details of visits to 1,292 sites from April 2014 to March 2015.

Revisions to the code came into force in April this year and yet as recently as October 2014 staff at more than 50% of the wards visited had received no training in the updates, most of which related to policy and practice developments, with very few ‘new’ requirements.

During 2014/15, 51% of all mental health inpatients were subject to the act with 19,656 detained inpatients as of March 31.

Other findings included 395 out of 3,838 (10%) records reviewed did not document whether patients had received information about their rights.

Also 964 of 3,000 (32%) of the records did not include a capacity assessment for medication on admission for patients, and 25% of 3,836 did not show any patient involvement in care plans which meant they were having their liberty unnecessarily restricted.

The majority of the findings showed little or no change since the 2013/14 report which inspectors say means they are now even more concerned about services meeting the standards in the 2015 code and delivering better care for patients, their families and carers.

Speaking about the report's findings, the CQC deputy chief inspector of hospitals lead for mental health Paul Lelliott said: ‘Although we have seen some good and caring practice in mental health facilities, we remain concerned that services are not ensuring staff understand the act or how they can ensure people are fully involved in decisions about their care.

‘This is about more than a person simply having a right to know what is happening to them,' he added. 

'Failure to engage a person fully in their treatment can hinder their recovery and lead to potential breaches in meeting their human rights.’

Read the full report here

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