Lessons not learnt – the 2016 Community Mental Health Survey results

Wellness relationship to illness

The newly published (15th November 2016)  2016 Community Mental Health Survey results demonstrate the difficulties in realising service improvements in a challenging economic climate. Declines between 2014 and 2015 in communication, involvement and effective coordination, areas that matter the most to service users, have not been reversed. However, results have been largely maintained in these years.

The Care Quality Commission Community Mental Health Survey, developed and co-ordinated by Picker, was completed by over 13,000 people, many of whom would have liked greater access to services.  More than half of respondents (53%) felt that they had not always seen NHS mental health services often enough, and over a third (37%) were not given enough time as they might have liked to discuss their needs and treatment.

The best outcomes are achieved through shared decision making between clinicians and service users, but respondents to the Community Mental Health Survey report significant room for improvement in this area. 10% of people said that they had not been involved in deciding what treatments or therapies to use and a further 34% said they had only been involved “to some extent”. Similar proportions said that their care agreement didn’t fully take their personal circumstances into account.

Commenting on the results, Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive at Picker said:

“It is no secret NHS mental health services are under pressure. Many trusts have faced falling income and rising demand and this situation is going to worsen in the short-to- medium term.

Against this backdrop, today’s results are understandable, but present further evidence of the impact of pressures on care. Declines seen in 2015 have not been reversed, and despite the commitment to parity of esteem, there have been few improvements in the areas of care that are most important to users.

Following disappointing results in 2015, the survey shows no new improvement in key areas of person centred care – those that matter most to service users. Understanding people’s experiences and personal priorities is vital if we are to improve care quality, and build sustainable services that support not only clinical outcomes but people to achieve long term, good mental health. In doing so we will support their wider wellbeing and enables them to live and maintain everyday lives, despite their condition.”

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