On 23 July 2008 the Healthcare Commission published a comprehensive assessment of all 69 NHS trusts providing acute inpatient mental health services. Overall, 8 trusts were rated as “excellent”, 20 as “good”, 30 as “fair” and 11 as “weak”.

Positive findings

• active involvment of inpatients in their care;

• providing meaningful activities in a therapeutic environment;

• planning care around the needs of service users;

• good access to independent advocacy and programmes to promote health, such as smoking cessation and healthy eating;

• good access to advice and support from specialists in caring for young people and for older people, when needed; and

• improvements in staff training on diversity issues and the recording of service users’ ethnicity.

Areas for action

• further improvement of involvement of patients in their care;

• ensuring the safety of service users, visitors and staff due to high levels of violence;

• reducing the numbers of patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 who are absent from services without authorisation;

• providing sufficient attention to the sexual safety of patients;

• overcrowding in some trusts;

• training staff to provide specialist services to patients who have mental health problems and who misuse drugs or alcohol; 

• involving crisis resolution home treatment (CRHT) teams in deciding whether admission to hospital is the most appropriate course of action;

• patients remaining in hospital due to delays in finding accommodation or appropriate support to live within the community; and

• commissioners who do not always use information to assess the needs of their communities.

To see the full report, please click on the folowing link:- The pathway to recovery - A review of NHS acute inpatient mental health services (pdf 1023kb) (opens new window) http://www.healthcarecommission.org.uk/_db/_documents/The_pathway_to_recovery_A_review_of_NHS_acute_inpatient_mental_health_services.pdf

Many of these points reflect the guiding principles set out in Chapter 1 of the new Code of Practice to the Mental Health Act:

• purpose;

• least restriction;

• respect;

• participation; and

• effectiveness, efficiency and equity.