A&Es ‘Lack Warmth’ for Treating Mental Health Crisis

Charlie Cooper writes in The Independent – People suffering a mental health crisis are being treated “without warmth and compassion” by staff at some A&Es, the national care watchdog has said.

Investigators from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that NHS and local authority services were failing to provide “round the clock” specialist support for people feeling suicidal, or suffering a psychotic episode or extreme anxiety.

This means that many must turn to A&E services. However, only 37 per cent of patients surveyed said they felt their concerns had been taken seriously.

Patients who had self-harmed also encountered what inspectors called poor altitudes from A&E staff towards self-inflicted injuries.

depressionNearly 69,000 people were admitted to a mental health ward for urgent care in England in 2013/14. Thousands of others have suffered a mental health crisis without being admitted, and many attend A&E.

Inspectors said they encountered instances of excellent care, with local authority, police, charity and NHS services working well together, and that fewer people had ben held in police cells during a crisis.

But, Dr Paul Leliot, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead on mental health, said public services were often not “equipped” to offer specialist and urgent care.

He added: “When people do receive help, hospital and mental healthcare staff are not always compassionate and caring. In particular people who have inflicted harm on themselves as a result of their mental distress deserve the same respect and compassion as those whose injuries are sustained by accident.”

In its national review, the CQC inspected mental health crisis care in 12 areas of England, and conducted a survey of 18.000 people who had experienced a mental health crisis.

Many expressed difficulty in accessing the right service. Most said they came into contact with three different organisations during their mental health crisis. Twelve per cent came into contact with as many as six to 10 different organisations.

“The tragedy is that this is going on, day in day out, across the UK and the ‘powderpuff’ CQC won’t stop it happening or prevent it from getting worse. Good, free healthcare in the UK is being dismantled not rejuvenated and those who don’t believe it have had no practical experience of the situation or are myopic”

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