• CQC to assess mental health boards on awareness of quality of their inpatient estate 
  • Will also be judged on their attempts to obtain capital investment 
  • Proposed changes to CQC’s inspection criteria were revealed in letter to providers today

The boards of mental health trusts will be assessed on their “awareness” of the quality of their inpatient estate and their efforts to obtain capital investment, the Care Quality Commission has said.

In a letter to trusts, sent today, CQC mental health lead Paul Lelliott proposed changes to the regulator’s inspection criteria for mental health trusts, intended to assess the physical environment of inpatient wards.

The proposals come in response to the review of the Mental Health Act, which recommended the CQC “develop new criteria for monitoring the social environments of wards” and review its current guidelines for the quality of inpatient care in mental health services.

In an interview with HSJ earlier this year, Dr Lelliott raised concerns over the state of mental health facilities and the “hundreds” of inappropriate dormitory style wards which are still used by trusts.

According to the letter, the safety regulator’s well-led review will assess trusts “on the extent to which boards are aware of the quality of inpatient estate and how active are the steps taken to obtain capital investment – if that is required”.

Other proposals for the new criteria include:

  • Assessing steps taken to minimise the impact on patients of dormitory style wards and a review of providers’ plans to eliminate these wards;
  • Strengthening CQC’s assessment of providers’ plans to reduce restrictive interventions, following its thematic review on the use of restraint, seclusion and segregation;
  • Giving greater weight to the range of available treatments and therapies, other than medication, available to patients on inpatient wards; and
  • Reviewing current inspector guidelines to ensure they set an “appropriate” level of expectation for the quality of care on inpatient wards.

Last month, HSJ reported that one third of mental health trusts did not submit any bids to the recent national capital funding waves.