Funding and crisis resolution teams dominate mental health trust chief executives' concerns

Published: 01/07/2004, Volume II3, No. 5912 Page 32

A new poll of mental health trust chief executives shows many have little faith in the ability of their commissioners to supply adequate funds for this financial year.

Fifty per cent said they were unconfident or very unconfident about this, with one chief executive rating the ability as zero. Only one trust rated its commissioner at a score above six.

But in contrast to the recent report into Rocky Bennett's death, which accused mental health services of being institutionally racist, 57 per cent were very confident that their organisation was not institutionally racist.

Service provision was a mixed picture. Although two-thirds of the chief executives surveyed were confident of establishing both early intervention and crisis resolution teams by the end of 2004 (in accordance with NHS plan targets), the remaining third were doubtful the target could be hit.

Staffing levels also presented a varying level of confidence.

Although there was a great deal of confidence in the recruitment of therapists - 100 per cent of respondents were either confident or very confident about having enough - nursing levels are causing most concern.

Over half of all the chief executives were not confident that they had enough nurses to meet service needs.

Medical positions fared better, with 69 per cent of respondents saying they were confident they had enough medical staff in place.

Bed occupancy rates were high among all respondents.

Almost half - 48 per cent - of respondents reported an occupancy rate of above 100 per cent, with 24 per cent reporting a rate of above 110 per cent. One hundred and twenty per cent was the highest rate reported and 85 per cent the lowest.

Readmission rates varied significantly. Although a quarter were at below 5 per cent, almost half were above 11 per cent.