Mental healthcare access fears

Almost half of users of community mental health services lack access to out-of-hours crisis care, according to research by the Healthcare Commission.

A total of 52 per cent of users had an emergency contact number compared with 49 per cent last year.

Despite users of the services in England reporting improvements in their care, almost a third did not receive help applying for jobs or benefits.

Community mental health services must address the needs of carers and those providing support for people with on-going mental health problems, the commission advises.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the commission, said that the results were encouraging but the concerns were well known. 'They are problems that have been going on too long. Carers and family members provide invaluable support to people with mental health problems.

'It is very important that they receive the help and support that they need. These results show there is still much to be done. There are a number of ways to improve social inclusion, including help finding jobs and receiving sufficient support from home and local communities.'

Each of the 69 trusts surveyed has been given a report to highlight areas of concern locally.The survey is part of the NHS patient experience survey programme and data will be used to make improvement to trusts.

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