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Annual survey of people’s experiences of community mental healthcare shows ‘limited progress’ overall

15 November 2017
  • Media

The results of the latest survey of community mental healthcare, out today (Wednesday 15 November), suggests that patients’ experiences of these services across England have not improved and have even declined slightly in key areas.

Although nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents rated their experiences of community mental healthcare as ‘seven or above’ out of ten in this year’s survey, this is not an improvement on the results from 2014 (65%).

More than 12,100 people took part in this year’s survey, covering their experiences of being cared outside of hospital by community-based mental health services, such as through specialist clinics and at home.

The results reveal that:

  • While 71% of respondents reported that they know who to contact when they experienced a mental health crisis out of hours, fewer people are satisfied with the quality of care and support that they feel they are receiving when they do make contact. This year, 26% of respondents said that they did not feel they got the help they needed from crisis care, compared to 21% in 2014.
  • A quarter of respondents (25%) reported they had not seen workers from their mental health services often enough to meet their needs in the last year – up from 21% in 2014.
  • 68% of respondents felt listened to by their healthcare or social workers –down from 73% in 2014. Also, 61% of respondents answered ‘yes, definitely’ to whether they felt they had enough time to discuss their needs and treatment – down from 65% in 2014.
  • Experiences seemed to vary across different population groups, particularly around overall care, respect and dignity, involvement, access and communication. There was a general trend that respondents aged 50 and above reported more positive experiences. Also, there was a marked trend that the longer a person is in contact with mental health services, the worse the experience reported.

The survey results have been released for providers to review the experiences of their patients and to improve their services. Also, CQC will continue to use the findings as part of its wider monitoring of the quality of mental healthcare and to plan its inspections.

Dr Paul Lelliott, Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (lead for mental health) at the Care Quality Commission, said:

“While it is good that two thirds of people in contact with community mental health services are satisfied overall with the care they are receiving, this still means that one in three people did not rate their experience so highly and it is disappointing that the results do not show improvements year-to-year.

“These services are important because they support the great majority of people who are under the care of specialist mental healthcare providers; including at times of crisis. They are also essential in working with people to ensure that their mental health does not deteriorate to the point that they require inpatient care.

“The finding that a higher proportion of people who sought help in a crisis were dissatisfied with the help provided is a particular concern.

“We expect providers to review their results very carefully. We will continue to use these findings to plan our inspections and will be looking carefully at the action plans that providers have developed in response to their local survey results.”


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Last updated:
15 November 2017

Notes to editors

  1. Further information about the community mental health survey, including results for all 56 providers and the summary report.
  2. There are at least 1.7 million people across the UK have accessed community mental health services [Source: NHS Digital].
  3. In October 2017, CQC published its report of the first phase of its thematic review of mental health services for children and young people in England.
  4. The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has performed ‘much worse than expected’ in this year’s survey - the only NHS trust to have done so. In response, CQC has written to the Isle of Wight NHS Trust to ask how it will act on the survey findings. CQC rated the trust as inadequate overall in April 2017 and it is currently in special measures. Further information. CQC has also written to 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Humber NHS Foundation Trust, and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust for performing ‘better than expected’ this year.

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


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.