The Care Quality Commission released its annual ‘State of Care’ report last week, assessing the quality of health and social care in England.

With a focus this year on access to care by those with learning disabilities or mental health problems, the report identifies five key issues:

• The care given to people with a learning disability or autism is not acceptable
• Other types of care are under pressure
• More and better community care services are needed
• Care services and organisations must work more closely together
• More room and support need to be given for innovations in care

The report further identifies a 14% decrease in the number of mental health beds since 2014/15 and that 14 independent mental health hospitals have been put into special measures over the last year.

With regard to Accident and Emergency, the CQC noted that the pressures normally associated with winter are now occurring all year round. Waiting times continue to increase and July 2019 saw a higher percentage of patients waiting more than four hours than previous Julys for at least five years.

The CQC relates increasing pressures on Accident and Emergency to increasing demand partly due to the inadequacy of some services out of hospital. The report observes that ‘an estimated 1.4 million older people do not have access to all the care and support they need.’

The annual State of Care report is based on the CQC’s inspections of care services as well as a range of other data. The report noted that whilst ‘quality ratings have been maintained overall, ….‘people’s experience of care is determined by whether they can access good care when they need it.’

Unfortunately, it further comments that ‘Some places have better care than others. There are parts of the country with concentrations of relatively poor care – people living there may find it difficult to access good care.’

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