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Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2012/13

This is CQC’s fourth annual report on our statutory monitoring of the use of the Mental Health Act (MHA). In 2012/13 people were detained or treated under the MHA more than 50,000 times and community treatment orders were imposed more than 4,600 times. The total number of people who are subject to the MHA has risen by 12% in the last five years, with 17,000 people detained at the end of 2012/13.

The ambition of national policy is to give mental health ‘parity of esteem’ with physical health within the health and social care system. The implementation framework for the Government’s strategy No Health without Mental Health underlines the importance of providing equal access to age appropriate services for everyone. The framework emphasises the interconnected nature of physical and mental health. It focuses on improving outcomes, quality and value for money, and making sure that people who use mental health services, their families and carers, are fully involved in all parts of mental health services, contributing to the goal of “no decision about me, without me”.

In our publication A fresh start for the regulation and inspection of mental health services, we have set out our own aims to strengthen our regulation of mental health services and to integrate our work under the Mental Health Act through our new approach to inspecting and monitoring specialist mental health services. High on our agenda is the need to promote ‘what good looks like’ in all aspects of care and support for detained patients. Our new approach to inspection will focus on identifying good practice, challenging poor practice wherever we find it and promoting continued improvement in people’s experience of services.

Feedback from our MHA visits offers positive examples of outstanding care delivery and a true commitment to advancing services and providing
humane psychiatric care. These are the stories we want to capture and promote. Through the success of others we want to help leaders, at all levels, to build an understanding of how practice can be changed for the benefit of people in need of mental health care and treatment. We welcome and support initiatives that promote positive practice and will be seeking examples of sustained, high-quality and safe care that has found practical solutions to the themes we report.

However, we also continue to receive reports of significant concern about the experience of people subject to the MHA. Our monitoring visits offer us a unique opportunity to identify issues and work collaboratively to improve the quality and safety of care.