CQC Report Finds ‘Heavy Demand’ for Mental Health Services

A report compiled by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) after an unannounced inspection of St Thomas’ Hospital Emergency Department in June 2021 has been published following concerns regarding the care of mental health patients during the pandemic.

The report, released late last week, revealed the increased numbers of patients attending the emergency department in need of psychiatric support over the past year. During the period April 2020 to May 2021, 3,121 mental health patients were seen by the department, which forms part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

While patients were found to be receiving timely care and treatment, subsequent delays surrounding discharge were found to be ‘common’ for those requiring onward in-patient specialist care services, such as psychiatric intensive care units (PICU), due to a shortage of beds.

According to the CQC report, 35 delayed discharges were recorded between January to June this year in respect of mental health patients.

The report detailed that “staff told us that there had been an increase [in] patients attending who had self-harmed and/or attempted suicide,” whilst some nursing staff had also “expressed their frustration for not always being able to give the quality of care they would aspire to [for] mental health patients due to heavy demand.”

At the time of the unannounced inspection, St Thomas’ Hospital Emergency Department was referring around 13 to 14 patients every day to the psychiatric liaison team.

The CQC “commended” the Emergency Department staff at St Thomas’ Hospital for their response to the increased demand, whilst acknowledging the skills of the team in keeping patients safe. Acknowledgement was also given to a new procedure in facilitating rapid responses when dealing with patients facing mental health emergencies.

Nicola Wise, the CQC’s head of hospital inspection for London, said, “We will continue to monitor the situation and acknowledge the response the trust has taken to the increased demand.”


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Carrie Plummer - Editor & Content Manager

Mental Health and Wellbeing Knowledge Hub News

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