CQC survey finds mental health patients feel treated with less respect and dignity

Patients with pre-existing mental health conditions feel they are treated with less respect and dignity while staying in hospital, according to the results of a wide-ranging survey.

This group reported worse experiences across most areas of care, including how well their needs and preferences were respected, than those without diagnosed problems, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found.

But most people who stayed as an inpatient in hospital were happy with the care they received, with improvements particularly seen in the quality of communication between staff and patients over the last year.

Mental health charity Mind said disparities in care were “concerning” and called for inequalities to be addressed.

More than 72,000 adults, who had each stayed in a hospital in England for at least one night during July last year, took part in the annual national CQC survey.

Four out of five (82%) said they were always treated with respect and dignity, up from 78% in 2009.

Around 78% said they always had confidence in the nurses treating them, while 69% felt nurses “definitely” answered important questions in a way they could understand.

Meanwhile, 62% of patients who had an operation while in hospital said they were told fully how they could expect to feel after the procedure, up from 58% in 2016.

But analysis of the results showed patients with a pre-existing mental health condition had a poorer experience across most areas of care for the second year running, the CQC said.

This group said they had less confidence and trust in hospital staff, thought they were treated with less respect and dignity and felt less informed about their care.

They also gave lower than average scores over whether their needs, values and preferences were fully considered, and for the quality of the coordination of their care.

Paul Farmer (pictured), chief executive of Mind, said: “It is concerning that people with mental health problems consistently report worse experiences of acute care than those without.

“Those working in and commissioning services need to use these results to look at how care can be improved to address this inequality.”

The annual survey also revealed concerns about the discharge of patients, with almost half (46%) reporting they did not feel fully involved in the decision for them to leave hospital.

Less than two-thirds of patients (62%) left hospital with written information on how to look after themselves after discharge, while 43% were not informed of the possible side effects of medication they were given to take home.

More than a quarter (27%) felt they did not have anyone to talk to about their worries and fears during their hospital stay, the survey found.

Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of hospitals, said the results showing some areas of improvement were “encouraging”.

He added: “However, scope for further improvement remains, particularly in relation to how patients are involved and informed in their discharge arrangements and the level of emotional support offered to patients during their hospital stay.

“This year’s survey results also show a continued disparity between the experiences of people with a mental health condition and those without.

“This is an area which hospitals must address to ensure that people with physical and mental health conditions are treated equally in acute settings.”

Dan Wellings, senior fellow at think tank The King’s Fund, said: “Ahead of its seventieth birthday this is a good news story for the NHS and suggests that NHS staff are, for the most part, managing to find ways to provide a positive experience for patients in the face of severe constraints on funding and staffing levels.

“However, concerns remain over how long NHS staff can continue to act as shock absorbers for the pressures facing NHS organisations.

“Continuing to improve patient experience depends on having sufficient staff so the new 10-year workforce strategy must go hand in hand with the forthcoming NHS funding settlement.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Chris Jackson / PA Wire.