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Survey finds mental health services improving, but still more to do

A survey of the performance of NHS trusts in mental health has found more patients are satisfied with the level of care provided, but despite overall improvement, there are still flaws in the provision of services.

The survey of more than 14,000 service users, conducted by the healthcare Commission, found that there have been improvements in care in several areas since the last annual survey.

Overall, most respondents rated their care highly, with 78% describing it as either good, very good or excellent.

But the survey also shows there is still some way to go before community mental health services are accessible to all people who need them.

The survey showed room for improvement in the provision of counselling services, particularly access to talking therapies.

Despite substantial investment by the Department of Health to make talking therapies available over the coming years, of the 62% of service users who did not receive any counselling almost a third (32%) said they would have liked to.

45% of service users surveyed said they still did not have access to a crisis telephone number to call out of hours.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the Healthcare Commission, said: ‘People may need to access a range of community mental health services from a number of healthcare professionals, so it's critical that the care is coordinated and accessible.

‘While the improvements are to be commended, the survey shows that there remains a significant number of service users who say that their care is not coordinated and that they aren't involved in decisions about their treatment.'

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