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‘No notable improvement’ in people’s experiences of out-of-hospital mental health care, finds patient survey

21 October 2015
  • Media,
  • Mental health community services

A survey of over 13,000 people who were treated and cared for in the community for their mental health problems has shown ‘no notable improvement’ in the last year and in some questions, a slightly higher proportion of people have reported a poor experience.

The regulator is now calling for NHS trusts to reflect on their findings and improve their care.

The annual survey led by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and published today (Wednesday 21 October), has assessed people’s experiences of the care and support they receive from community mental health services run by NHS trusts in England, such as in clinics and in their own homes for conditions ranging from mild depression to psychosis. The survey does not cover the care people have received for their mental health problems from general practices.

The survey asks for their views on aspects of their care, such as whether they felt they were treated with dignity and respect and on whether they felt involved in decisions about their care.

When people were asked to rate their overall experience of their community mental health care on a scale of 0 to 10, a higher proportion of people reported a poorer experience compared to last year; 28% rated it as five or lower, compared to 25% in 2014.

Also, a slightly higher proportion of people than last year reported that they did not feel listened to by staff (7%, up from 5% in 2014), did not feel they were given enough time to discuss their needs and treatments (11% up from 9% in 2014), and did not feel they were treated with dignity and respect (7%, up from 6% in 2014).

While the survey has not shown improvement from last year’s results, there are many questions that people have responded to positively about their care and treatment. For example:

  • 96% of people reported that they knew how to contact the person in charge of organising their care and services, if they have a concern about their care
  • 70% reported that they ‘definitely’ felt listened to by the person or people they saw (2014: 73%)
  • 78% of people on long term medication reported that they had had this reviewed (the same as in 2014), although this means that 22% did not
  • 73% reported that they were ‘always’ treated with respect and dignity (2014: 75%)

Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (lead for mental health) said: “Overall it is disappointing that there has been no notable improvement from last year’s survey. In particular, the fact that over a quarter of people reported a poor experience of their care is worrying and must be acted on.

“Community mental health services play a vital role in supporting people with their mental health problems without needing to stay in hospital.  It is imperative that the NHS gets this right.

“We urge all NHS trusts and in particular those that have performed poorly to reflect on what the survey tells them about what their patients think of their services act on the findings.

“We will consider the results of this survey in our inspections so that we can be confident that people receive the safe, high-quality and compassionate care they deserve.”

The survey also shows some variation in performance between NHS trusts, with a small group performing poorly across many of the questions. Those that scored ‘worse than expected’ for 10% or more of all of the questions are:

  • Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (inspected by CQC in January 2014 – not rated)
  • Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (inspected by CQC in March 2015 and rated Requires Improvement)
  • Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (to be inspected by CQC in November 2015)
  • North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (inspected by CQC in August 2015 – awaiting rating)
  • The Isle of Wight NHS Trust (inspected by CQC in June 2014 and rated Requires Improvement)

The variation is also demonstrated by NHS trusts whose survey results are ‘better than expected’. Those that scored ‘better than expected’ for 10% or more of all of the questions are:

  • Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (inspected by CQC in June 2014 and rated Good)
  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (inspected in June 2015 – awaiting rating)
  • Mersey Care NHS Trust  (inspected by CQC in June 2015 and rated Good)
  • NAVIGO Health and Social Care CIC (to be inspected by CQC in January 2016)
  • Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust  (inspected by CQC in January 2015 and rated Good)

The community mental health survey is conducted every year by CQC. It represents the experiences of over 13,000 people who received specialist care or treatment for a mental health condition in 55 NHS trusts in England between September and November 2014.


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

Further information about the community mental health survey, including results for all 55 NHS trusts and the summary report.


Mind has estimated that at least 1.6 million people across the UK have accessed community mental health services in the last year.


The 2015 community mental health survey used the same questionnaire as the 2014 survey, which means that these results can be compared back to the 2014 results. Similar surveys have been carried out by mental health trusts since 2004. However, the survey questionnaire was substantially redeveloped in 2014 and updated to reflect changes in policy, best practice and patterns of service. This means that results from the 2014 and 2015 surveys cannot be compared back to the previous surveys’ results.


The community mental health survey is part of a wider programme of NHS patient surveys, which cover topics including maternity, outpatient, children and young people and A&E services, ambulances, and inpatient services.


About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.