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Mental health care improving

11th September 2008

The Healthcare Commission has found that almost half of community mental health patients in England are unable to access any out-of-hours care.

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In a survey, the commission also discovered that a third of patients are not told about side-effects of new medication.

However, the organisation found that more patients had confidence in mental health professionals, receive copies of their care plan and have a number to contact out-of-hours in a crisis situation.

From the survey of 14,000 respondents, the majority were happy with their care. Some 78% described it as "excellent", "very good" or "good".

But the commission found that 24% were not involved in deciding what was in their care plan, and 16% said their diagnosis was not discussed with them. In addition, of the 62% of service users who did not receive any counselling almost a third (32%) would have liked to.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said: "The survey shows steady improvement in how service users rate key aspects of their care.

"But more must be done to improve access to care, in particular to talking therapies and out-of-hours crisis care, and to involve people in decisions about their treatment."

The mental health charity Mind expressed concern that there were still significant numbers of people with long-term health needs who were not involved in planning their care.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said people's mental health problems were being treated like "second-class citizens" too often.

But Louis Appleby, national director of mental health services, said the results showed "hugely encouraging" improvements.

 

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