The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published its second Mental Health Act annual report 2010/2011. Findings in the report relate to visits undertaken by the CQC’s Mental Health Act Commissioners between 1 April 2010 and 31 March 2011. During this period, the CQC carried out 1,565 visits and met with more than 4,700 patients with the aim of identifying any areas where the Mental Health Act (MHA) is not being used correctly and also any concerns detained patients may have about their care and treatment.

The report identifies that work is still required in relation to three priority areas identified in the CQC’s first annual MHA report published in 2010.The areas for improvement are:

  • involving patients in decisions about their care and treatment;
  • assessing and recording patients’ consent to treatment; and
  • minimising restrictions on detained patients and avoiding “blanket” security measures.

The report highlights the following key recommendations:

  • Providers should ensure that the principle of patient participation in care planning is fully incorporated into staff training programmes. Clinical leaders should be assisted in developing ward cultures where patient participation is the norm.
  • Providers should make sure that staff take refresher courses on consent to treatment.
  • Providers should ensure that all staff caring for patients subject to Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) understands the scope and limits of this power. Unlawful treatment of a patient subject to a CTO should be properly investigated.
  • Staff with responsibilities for the provision of therapeutic activities should monitor participation in such programmes. These programmes should be reviewed to ensure continued relevance to patients’ needs.
  • Commissioners of inpatient mental health services should ensure that local needs assessments for mental health services are robust, and that availability of beds and evidence based alternatives to admission meet the needs of local people.
  • Where individuals have been assessed under the MHA as needing admission, delays are a significant safety issue. NHS providers should report such instances as serious untoward incidents (level 4) to the National Reporting and Learning Service (NRLS) and/or as safeguarding issues.
  • Detaining authorities should give patients the opportunity to record their experience and views following restraint incidents.
  • When patients receive bad news, it is vital that in such circumstances they receive support from staff and that a fresh assessment of risk is undertaken, even when the patient shows no obvious signs of distress.

We are able to provide courses for professionals dealing with the topics highlighted above, including consent to treatment.