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Keep up to date with the latest news, research and activity in patient safety

Millions with mental health needs not seeking NHS help, watchdog says

Millions of people in England with mental ill-health are not seeking NHS help, and many who get it face long delays and a “poor experience”, a report says.

Long waits for care will persist for years because soaring demand, exacerbated by Covid, will continue to outstrip the ability of severely understaffed mental health services to provide speedy treatment, the National Audit Office (NAO) found.

The report found that “NHS mental health services are under continued and increasing pressure and many people using services are reporting poor experiences”. Under-18s, the LGBT+ community, minority ethnic groups and people with more complex needs are most likely to find the system inadequate.

“While funding and the workforce for mental health services have increased and more people have been treated, many people still cannot access services or have lengthy waits for treatment,” the NAO said.

It found:

  • An estimated 8 million people with mental health needs are not in contact with NHS services.
  • There are 1.2 million people waiting for help from community-based mental health services.
  • While the mental health workforce grew by 22% between 2016-17 and 2021-22, the NHS recorded a 44% increase in referrals over the same period.
  • In 2021-22, 13% of mental health staff quit.

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Source: The Guardian, 9 February 2023

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Mental health patients at risk of sexual assault on mixed sex wards, watchdog warns

Vulnerable female patients have been sexually “exposed” on a mixed gender ward deemed not “fit for purpose”, the NHS watchdog has warned.

The Care Quality Commission found that sexual incidents had occured at Hill Crest, a 25-bed mixed gender mental health unit in Redditch, as male and female were being put at risk.

It found male patients are able to walk into female bathrooms and bedrooms, leading to risks of sexual assault and relationships. It found that sexual incidents had taken on the unit because of the risks.

The rate of assaults on mixed sex wards is significantly higher than on single-sex wards, data has shown.

According to the CQC, the trust graded sexual incidents between patients as “low harm” but did not fully consider them or follow up actions to keep patients safe.

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Source: The Independent, 8 February 2023

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