Could do better!

The role of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is to handle complaints that have not been satisfactorily resolved by the NHS itself. On 19th March 2018 it issued a report giving illustrative examples with lessons for how mental health services could do better: It is our role to ensure NHS organisations learn from these mistakes and take the necessary steps to prevent those mistakes from happening again. That a problem exists is suggested by the fact that: In 2016-17 there were 14,106 complaints made to NHS mental health trusts, with around 65% being upheld or partly upheld by the local organisation.

How many times in the past have we heard this kind of tut-tutting? How many new five year plans, reorganisations, revisions to legislation, and other ‘worthy’ initiatives have there been since a new Mental Health Act was introduced in 1959?  Are the concerns serious or is it just a pretence? As stated: According to The King’s Fund, 40% of mental health trusts in England received a real terms decrease in their operating income in 2015-16.  More recently, The King’s Fund found that, despite 85% of mental health trusts receiving increases to their income in 2016-17, funding for acute and specialist physical healthcare continued to grow more quickly, increasing the gap in funding between physical and mental health services. Furthermore, there has been a 13% reduction in mental health nurses between 2009 and 2017, with inpatient care losing nearly 25%. Almost 10% of all posts in specialist mental health services in England are vacant. 

Who should we charge with doing better?


Maintaining momentum: driving improvements in mental health care. Parliamentary and health service ombudsman. 19 March 2018, HC906.

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