Publish date: 29 February 2024

A team from HSSIB made a two day visit to our Mental Health Care Division at Clock View Hospital recently which ended with very positive initial feedback. HSSIB was established in October 2023 as an arms length body of the Department of Health and Social Care and has been commissioned by the Secretary of State to investigate four specific areas in mental health. The visiting team was specifically looking at our work on acute mental health out of area placements, and wanted to understand how patient flow works across the system for acute mental health beds. They also touched on other areas: learning lessons from deaths, transition from CAMHS to adults and safe staffing (including therapeutic interventions and sexual safety).  

A number of staff were interviewed by the team who also visited our psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) whilst as Clock View, where they spoke to service users. HSSIB acknowledged the complexity of mental health services and systems and actually witnessed the aim of our staff to use the lowest, most appropriate level of care with service users. They were also, coincidentally, given a presentation on reducing restrictive practice which was very well received and an area they wish to further review. The team said staff wellbeing was a clear priority for the service and they praised the commitment and positivity that they’d seen in our staff.

It was agreed that issues affecting all trusts, such as workforce challenges, needed further national guidance, and parity of esteem across mental health services, in the same way as acute physical health services* was also discussed.  

The visitors wanted to thank everyone for making them feel welcome and for the positive approach from staff to their visit. They had no concerns or risks to escalate to the divisional senior leadership team. Their full, anonymised report, with recommendations, will be available late summer/early autumn.  

Special thanks from Donna Robinson, Divisional Director of Mental Health Care/Director of Mental Health to staff and service users involved in the visit.

*The definition of Parity of Esteem for Mental Health was published (19 February 2024) alongside the building blocks of what this means in practice to support systems in closing the gap. Please see pages 5 and 6 of this link on the Public Accounts Committee website and this note from Claire Murdoch, NHS England's Mental Health Director.

“In a letter to the Public Accounts Committee, Department of Health and Social Care set out the full definition of parity of esteem, meaning that mental health is valued equally to physical health and that for the NHS this means parity of timely access, evidence based and therapeutic care, and patient experience for people with mental health needs. Secondly, the letter lists a set of building blocks to work towards that will allow us to achieve parity of esteem. These in brief are: care is patient centric and therapeutic; every part of the NHS recognises mental health on par with physical health; data in the mental health sector is on par with physical health; and funding decisions are made to close the gap between mental and physical health.

The NHS has made huge strides in recent years to transform and expand services. Our Talking Therapies and community services are seeing more patients than ever before, our workforce has grown by over 30,000 and we’ve been rolling out new services like our Maternal Mental Health Services and Mental Health Support Teams in schools. But there is still a large treatment gap to address. We know that achieving full parity of esteem is a long term ambition and will require additional funding for mental health that will likely span multiple future fiscal events. So, although we can’t yet set out a detailed plan to achieve parity now, this formal definition and list of building blocks gives us a solid foundation to enable us to work towards our goal, building on the progress already made.”