• All but three of NHS mental health trusts inspected before July rated inadequate or requires improvement
  • 80 per cent of acute mental health wards inspected before July have safety concerns
  • CQC chief executive not calling for cash injection despite “unsuitable buildings” creating suicide risks

Mental health trusts are facing serious safety concerns, with all but three of those rated by the Care Quality Commission before July needing to improve on safety, the regulator has found.

Today’s State of Care report shows that of the 47 mental health acute trusts inspected by the CQC before July 2016, four were rated as inadequate and 40 as requires improvement for the key question “are services safe?”

The regulator found that acute mental health wards and psychiatric intensive care units were the most dangerous, with 18 per cent rated inadequate for safety, and a further 62 per cent requiring improvement.

The report singled out poor “physical environments” as “frequently” contributing to safety concerns.

David Behan, the CQC’s chief executive, told HSJ: “One of the big issues is about the presence of ligature points in the physical environment where people are attempting suicide, or indeed in one or two cases people have committed suicide.”

The report – the CQC’s annual update on quality – called for “greater investment in purpose built wards” in the long term, saying that “in a number of reports, inspectors explicitly linked the problems they found with the fact that the wards were housed in old or unsuitable buildings”.

The CQC has publicly called for extra funding for adult social care. However, when asked if mental health services needed to be offered greater investment to improve facilities, Mr Behan said “that is not what we are doing with this report”. He added that an “awful lot of trusts” were addressing concerns about ligature points within the building and resources they already have.

The report also noted that the CQC has seen people with severe mental health problems remaining in hospital for “months or years at a time” and criticised long stay units for not being “focused enough on people’s recovery”.

It added that providers are continuing to apply to register residential services that are not consistent with the new service model for learning disability introduced following the Winterbourne View care home scandal.

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