Latest CQC report exposes long waits, racial inequalities, and understaffing in mental health care

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) recently released report, reveals significant failings in mental health services for children and young people in the UK, exacerbated by staff shortages, underfunding, and persistent racial inequalities.

The Monitoring the Mental Health Act in 2022/2023 report indicates a record number of nearly half a million children and young people were either waiting for or receiving mental health treatment as of November 2023, with this figure rising by almost 20,000 by January. These individuals face an average wait of 40 days for treatment, and many are placed in inappropriate settings, further compounding their distress.

The report underscores ongoing racial disparities in mental health care. Black or Black British people are significantly more likely – over 3 and a half times more likely – to be detained under the Mental Health Act and placed on community treatment orders, than their White counterparts. The lack of staff and beds leads to isolation, poor care quality, and reduced access to activities and therapy, with a particular lack of suitable community accommodations for autistic individuals and those with learning disabilities. Additionally, there’s an increased risk of inappropriate restraint and violence.

CQC’s updated policies call for a reduction in restrictive practices and an improved human rights approach. However, the much-needed amendments to the Mental Health Act proposed in the draft Mental Health Bill have not been prioritised by the government. Despite an increase in the nursing workforce, the specific needs of mental health care remain unaddressed, highlighting an urgent need for a comprehensive NHS workforce plan to meet the critical care needs of those with mental health conditions.

Read the report here.