Ministers have announced a review into England’s mental health services following a series of scandals in inpatient care.
In September, a BBC Panorama documentary exposed abuse at an inpatient facility in Prestwich, Manchester. Staff were filmed bullying patients, using unnecessary restraint and keeping patients in seclusion for inappropriately long periods of time.
Then in November, a report into the deaths of three teenage girls found ‘systemic failings’ in the care they received from a mental health trust in North Yorkshire, Northern England, according to the Health Service Journal.
Health minister Maria Caulfield on Monday told ministers that the rapid review would “focus on what data and evidence is currently available to healthcare services, including information provided by patients and families, and how we can use this data and evidence more effectively to identify patient safety risks and failures in care.”
It will be chaired by Dr Geraldine Strathdee, who is already leading a parallel inquiry into thousands of patient deaths over two decades at a mental health organisation in Essex in the South East of England.
National Health Service England, which commissions and oversees health services across the country, has also launched a three year quality improvement scheme intended to “tackle the root causes” of unsafe inpatient care.
The rapid review comes at a time of intense pressure for the country’s mental health services, which face staffing and funding shortages outpaced by rising demand.
Sarah Hughes, chief executive at mental health charity Mind, called the review “a positive step” following “deeply concerning reports” of failings at mental health hospitals.
She said in a statement: “This review needs to gather information on the much deeper-set systemic failings in mental health care, and establish what works in successful mental health settings that provide therapeutic and safe care.”
She added that the review would not be enough to “fix the crisis” in mental health hospitals, calling on politicians to increase investment in services.
On Monday, Caulfield told parliament the government was spending an extra £150 million ($184 million) on capital improvements for mental health services. She said the funding — first announced back in June — will be spent on new mental health ambulances and facilities for people experiencing crises.
She said almost a billion ($1,230,000) more would be invested in community mental health services over the next
England is facing “the biggest mental health crisis the country has ever seen”, according to Mind’s head of health, policy and campaigns, Paul Spencer.
Responding to Cauldfield’s comments, he said in a statement that a long-term, funded plan was crucial for providing high quality services.
He added: “Mental health services have faced decades of underfunding in comparison to physical health, and mental health received none of the Covid-19 recovery funding announced in 2021, despite huge backlogs in mental health care and the well-known impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health.
“We’re seeing the human cost of that playing out now as people wait days in our A&Es for mental health beds and people experiencing complex mental health problems struggle without help around us in our communities.”