Local efforts to monitor clinical governance in mental health services have not been reflected in official figures which paint a far bleaker picture, policy experts and charities have claimed.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health revealed that just 10 per cent of local implementation teams - the 126 bodies charged with implementing the mental health national service framework - believe they have effective systems in place to monitor clinical governance. The figure was published in the DoH's mental health policy implementation guide.

But policy experts and charities suggest the picture of widespread failure does not represent the reality on the ground.

Edward Peck, director of the Centre for Mental Health Services Development, has met around 50 teams across the country. He said: 'This issue is one more of presentation than substance. Local implementation teams have had a lot of work to do over the last 18 months and this is not something I think many have as their top priority.

'The work for many of them has been done but it has not been brought together in a formal way.

People have been concentrating on ensuring that the services that are being set up under the framework are going to work. '

Cliff Prior, chief executive of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, said: 'One reason for the delays has to be the fact that the system is in a state of flux at the moment while the national service framework is being set up.

It is more important that clinical governance is done right rather than rushing things.

'For too long clinical governance has been about health professionals ensuring that services are delivered in the way other health professionals think right.

But it is something that has got to involve users as well. '

One organisation admitting to difficulties is the newly formed North Essex Mental Health Partnership trust. A spokesman said: 'At the moment I would say we are on a state of amber. . . A lot of it has been done, but one of the problems is that we have been very busy with the merger. '