Out-of-hours mental health support criticised

Out-of-hours support for specialist community mental healthcare users remains below recommended levels, the Healthcare Commission has warned. By Laura James

The commission has published a report, reviewing any progress of NHS specialist community mental health trusts since the services were reviewed in 2005/06.

The report found that service users now have more involvement in their care and treatment, there is better review of their physical health and assessment of work status and vocational aspirations is now offered.

However, 45% of community mental health service users do not have a number to contact in an out-of-hours crisis. Less than half of those with schizophrenia eligible for psychological therapies are offered it.

Anna Walker, the Commision’s chief executive said: While it is very encouraging that there have been some improvements, significant gaps still exist, particularly in important areas such as access to out-of-hours support for people with a mental health problem and psychological therapies for people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. This situation must change.

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