Page last updated at 23:22 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 00:22 UK

Many mental health wards 'poor'

Stressed woman
Concerns are being raised about mental health wards

Many NHS mental health wards are poor, according to a review of the sector by watchdogs.

The Healthcare Commission assessed all 69 mental health trusts in England, covering nearly 10,000 hospital beds.

Nearly a quarter of the beds were run by organisations given the bottom weak rating by the watchdog, with no trust top-scoring in all four key criteria.

Campaigners said the findings were disturbing, but the government said the problems were already being addressed.

It is disturbing that on so many wards patients do not receive holistic treatment in safe conditions
Margaret Edwards, of Sane

The report also highlighted problems with violence - 45% of nurses and 15% of patients said they were assaulted in the last year - and overcrowding.

It also raised concerns that in a six month period patients sectioned under the Mental Health Act went absent without leave on more than 2,700 occasions.

Overall, the smaller trusts tended to perform better, meaning large numbers of inpatient mental health beds were in trusts that were given a weak rating.

Eight trusts were rated as excellent, accounting for 843 beds, 20 were good, accounting for 2,808 beds, 30 were fair, accounting for 3,985 beds, and 11 weak, accounting for 2,249 beds.

The watchdog used performance data and patient and staff surveys to judge the trust on four key criteria - the standard of care, the involvement of patients and carers, safety and the patient journey, which looks at how well patients are moved through the system.

It warned there was far too many variations in care both across the country and within individual trusts.

It recommended patients and carers be more engaged with to provide better, more personalised services, while staff needed better training.

And the units were told to involve community mental health teams more in deciding when and whether a patient should be admitted.

Tough

Anna Walker, the watchdog's chief executive, acknowledged mental health units were often "tough" places to provide care, but added the findings were still concerning.

"There are cases where people are not always getting the personalised, safe, high quality care that they need.

"This is happening at a time of crisis in their lives and it cannot be ignored."

The watchdog said it had already completed follow-up visits to most of the trusts rated weak and action plans were being implemented.

Professor Louis Appleby, the government's national director for mental health, said more money was being invested to address the problems.

"We have not waited for this report to take action on the issues raised. For example, 130m has been allocated over the last two years alone to improve environments and promote safety on acute wards."

But Margaret Edwards, head of strategy at the mental health charity SANE, said inpatient care needed to become more of a priority.

"While it is encouraging that some trusts provide good quality care, it is disturbing that on so many wards patients do not receive holistic treatment in safe conditions."

Acute inpatient mental health service review scores table

Trust Overall score Sum of points
Dudley Primary Care Trust 4 15
Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust 4 15
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust 4 14
Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 4 14
Milton Keynes Primary Care Trust 4 13
North Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust 4 13
Shropshire County Primary Care Trust 4 13
South Staffordshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 4 13
Cornwall Partnership NHS Trust 3 12
Gloucestershire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 3 12
North East Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust 3 12
Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust 3 12
South Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 3 12
Barnsley Primary Care Trust 3 11
Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 3 11
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 3 11
Hampshire Partnership NHS Trust 3 11
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 3 11
Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust 3 10
Humber Mental Health Teaching NHS Trust 3 10
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust 3 10
Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust 3 10
Oxfordshire And Buckinghamshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 3 10
Pennine Care NHS Trust 3 10
Portsmouth City Teaching Primary Care Trust 3 10
Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 3 10
Sussex Partnership NHS Trust 3 10
Tees, Esk And Wear Valleys NHS Trust 3 10
Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust 2 9
Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Social Care NHS Trust 2 9
Bolton, Salford and Trafford Mental Health NHS Trust 2 9
Bradford District Care Trust 2 9
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 2 9
Devon Partnership NHS Trust 2 9
Dorset Primary Care Trust 2 9
Herefordshire Primary Care Trust 2 9
Isle Of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust 2 9
North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 2 9
Sandwell Mental Health NHS and Social Care Trust 2 9
Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Trust 2 9
Coventry And Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust 2 8
Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 2 8
Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 2 8
Leeds Mental Health Teaching NHS Trust 2 8
Mersey Care NHS Trust 2 8
North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust 2 8
Plymouth Teaching Primary Care Trust 2 8
Somerset Partnership NHS and Social Care Trust 2 8
South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust 2 8
South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust 2 8
5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust 2 7
Derbyshire Mental Health Services NHS Trust 2 7
East London and The City Mental Health NHS Trust 2 7
Kent And Medway NHS And Social Care Partnership Trust 2 7
Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 2 7
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust 2 7
Walsall Teaching Primary Care Trust 2 7
Worcestershire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 2 7
Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust 1 6
Lancashire Care NHS Trust 1 6
Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust 1 6
Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust 1 6
North East London Mental Health NHS Trust 1 6
North Yorkshire And York Primary Care Trust 1 6
Northumberland, Tyne And Wear NHS Trust 1 6
Sheffield Care Trust 1 6
West London Mental Health NHS Trust 1 6
Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust 1 5
Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust 1 4



SEE ALSO
MPs reveal mental health problems
16 Jul 08 |  Politics
Call for mental heath care push
11 May 07 |  Health

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