CQC Changes Approach To Mental Healthcare Inspections

Industry Regulator To Pay More Attention To Community Mental Health Services

02.12.2013

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is set to make significant changes to the way it assesses mental healthcare facilities in the UK.

At the moment, the regulator tends to focus on hospitals, but its new approach will be more inclusive of specialist community services.

More than 1.5 million people used community-based centres in 2012, so it is important the CQC ensures these are up to scratch.

The proposed reforms have been set out in the body's latest report - entitled A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of mental health services - and the CQC is hoping to liaise with mental health patients and their families far more closely in the future.

Concerns have been raised about the standard of mental health services in the UK, with a recent government study suggesting levels of care offered to dementia patients vary throughout the country.

The CQC has made no secret of the fact it wants to ensure mental healthcare services are given as much scrutiny as physical health provisions.

Sir Mike Richards, the body's chief inspector of hospitals, said: "We have recognised that we need to strengthen our approach to regulating specialist mental health services to ensure that people get care that is safe, effective, caring and responsive to people's needs and well led.

"I regard this as every bit as important as the changes I am making to the way we regulate acute hospitals."

The CQC intends to introduce a ratings system that will highlight the best and worst mental health centres, making it easier for inspectors to identify which facilities require the most attention.

Chief executive of mental health charity Mind Paul Farmer has welcomed the changes, insisting that vulnerable people need to have the utmost confidence in the UK's healthcare offerings.

He believes the CQC's new approach has the potential to catalyse a "step-change" in the way important services are reviewed across the country.

Expert Opinion
In order for the service level to be improved and maintained it may be useful to implement targets to allow the NHS and the CQC to measure the effectiveness of services and what areas need to be improved.

“Psychiatric patients are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Without access to a consistently high standard of care, the consequences can be devastating. It can be difficult to understand many mental health issues as there are no physical signs, therefore this means that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that vulnerable patients are receiving the best possible support.

“Some mental health issues can need just as timely emergency treatment as physical problems, so we need to ensure that there is a concise way of monitoring that improvements are being made and implemented across the NHS.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner