A survey of mental health patients by the Healthcare Commission has reported gaps in the quality of services and advice.

The government watchdog's annual community mental health service users' survey, carried out in March, shows that while most patients were happy with standards of care, wide variation remained.

Of those patients who wanted information about local support groups, 50 per cent said they had not received any.

Almost half the respondents said they had no access to out-of-hours crisis care and one in three people who wanted counselling said they were not receiving it.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said while the general trends were encouraging the results showed 'there is still much to be done'.

Director of the NHS Confederation's mental health network Steve Shrubb said he was concerned by the findings.

However, he believed the fact that 76 per cent rated their care as good, very good or excellent was credit to the hard work of staff at mental health trusts.

Results will be fed back to trusts to make improvements.

They will also be used as part of the Healthcare Commission's annual health check, which assesses whether organisations are meeting government standards and targets.

For more on the survey, click here