Nearly half of mental health service users do not know who to contact in a crisis outside office hours, a major Care Quality Commission survey has revealed.

The survey of 17,000 people in contact with community mental health services found 44 per cent of those surveyed did not have a number to ring out of hours in crisis.

In addition, only 43 per cent were “definitely” told about possible side effects of new medicine.

Nearly half of respondents were patients on a care programme approach, a more involved package of care supporting their complex needs. The results suggested they were more positive about aspects of their treatment than non-CPA patients.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said the results of the survey were largely positive but trusts should examine whether their service users were getting the right level of support.

She said: “We know that involving people in their own care and ensuring they understand their treatment helps people to get better faster. Yet these are the areas that need the most improvement.”