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Gaps in mental health care

12th September 2005

Mental Health patients are not receiving the all the support and information they could be from the NHS, according to a new survey.

The survey, undertaken by the Healthcare Commission, found that many patients did not have access to emergency support, were not involved in decision-making and were not told about side effects associated with drugs.

Of the 26,500 people surveyed, more than half did not have the phone number of local mental health services to call in an emergency and one in four had not seen the same psychiatrist during their last two visits.

However, 80 per cent of participants said NHS healthcare professionals treated them with dignity and respect.

Anna Walker, chief executive of the watchdog, told the BBC: "This survey shows people who use mental health services have a lot of praise for the doctors, nurses and other specialist staff providing their care.

"However, there are still problems that need to be addressed. Service users need better support and information, especially out of hours.

"They need more access to counselling and they need better continuity of care. These are important challenges."

At least one in four people suffer mental health problems each year in the UK.