A new study has found that information being provided to patients about their rights under the Mental Health Act (MHA) has improved from 89% in 2014-16 to 94% in 2016-18.

The ‘Monitoring the Mental Health Act’ annual report analyses and explores the use of the Mental Health Act (MHA), and looks at how providers are caring for patients, and whether patient’s rights are being protected.

The study reported an increase, from 83% to 85% in further attempts to explain rights to the patient or the patient’s nearest relatives.

Despite this, the availability and quality of advocacy services is not consistent and there are still concerns about the use of restrictive practices in mental health services, such as ‘long-term segregation’, which is now viewed to be much more commonplace.

Over the process, the Care Quality Commission - who undertook the survey - received 2,319 complaints and enquiries about the way the MHA was applied to patients.

It reported that there is a general trend of improvement in the areas measured, such as care planning, identifying patient’s physical health issues on admission and discharge planning.

Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation, commented: “This report gives an important insight into the use of the Mental Health Act and what is going on in mental health wards up and down the country.

“We welcome reports that care has improved, in no small part because of the dedication of our members under extremely challenging conditions, but would echo the CQC’s concerns on the quality and safety of mental health wards.

“We encourage the government to take note of the need for urgent improvements to mental health infrastructure and to make sure the recommendations from the recent review of the Mental Health Act are implemented.

“However, we can see positive green shoots from this report and the trend of improvement. As the review of the Act recommended, service users must be more involved in their care so it was encouraging to see a 10% increase in evidence of patients’ involvement in care plans and more evidence of service users being provided with appropriate information about their rights."