Most mental health patients praise care

More than seven in 10 mental health inpatients rate their care as good or better than good.

This is according to the first ever large-scale survey of NHS psychiatric inpatients.

Interviews were carried out on 7,500 patients recently discharged from 64 NHS trusts across England.

The survey, published last week, was by the Care Quality Commission, responsible for regulating health and social care.

A total of 73% of patients said their care during their most recent mental health hospital stay was good, very good or excellent; 16% said it was fair, but more than one in ten (12%) said it was poor.

The survey contains valuable information on how mental health inpatients view their care and treatment.

Among the findings were:

* 92% of patients did not share a room or bay with a patient of another sex.

* Only 45% said they always felt safe.

* 13% said their psychiatrist did not listen carefully to them, and one in five (19%) were not given enough time to talk with their psychiatrist; 21% of patients stated they did not trust their psychiatrist, while 17% did not trust nurses. But 69% said their psychiatrist always treated them with dignity and respect

* Almost half (48%) of patients were not clearly told about possible side effects of psychiatric medication.

* Although 52% wanted talking therapies only 29% received it.

The commission’s questionnaire was given to people who had left hospital in the previous six months after a stay of at least 48 hours on an acute ward or psychiatric intensive care unit.

Paul Corry, of the mental health charity Rethink, described the figures as “shocking”.

“If they were applied to people receiving treatment for diabetes, cancer or heart disease there would be a national outcry,” he said.

Phil Hope, the care services minister, said: “It’s good news that 73% of people described their care overall as good, very good or excellent. “It’s also important to remember that nearly half of the people … had been detained under the Mental Health Act and had severe mental health problems, which may have affected how safe they felt. It is vital they get the care, support and treatment they need,” he said.

Marion Janner of the Star Wards organisation which aims to drive up standards of acute mental health wards admitted the survey’s findings made “gloomy reading”

She said this was partly because of the “woeful poverty” of funding of and political commitment to inpatient care.

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