News story

Monitor to start using new standards to bring mental health more in line with other services

Foundation trusts will be regulated according to how well they meet the new government access targets for mental health being introduced next year, bringing mental health standards more in line with other services.

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The set of criteria the health sector regulator uses to assess trusts - the Risk Assessment Framework (RAF) - will include these extra mental health targets, and views are being sought in a consultation published today on when these changes should be brought in.

If trusts materially or consistently fail these targets for three quarters in a year, Monitor will treat it as a possible indication of wider problems with how a trust is being run, and will consider whether the trust may be in breach of its licence. This could lead to an investigation or further action, in the same way as if patients are consistently waiting too long in A&E.

The move follows the government’s introduction of new waiting time standards for talking therapy treatment, which is used for problems including depression, and for initial treatment of psychosis. Foundation trusts will be required to report whether they meet these standards on a quarterly basis.

Stephen Hay, Monitor’s Managing Director of Provider Regulation said:

Tackling mental health problems can be extremely time-sensitive. We know for example that early treatment of psychosis can dramatically improve chances of recovery.

These important changes to the way we regulate foundation trusts build on our work to bring mental health standards more in line with the way we regulate other services.

Monitor is also consulting on adding indicators to help regulate trusts which provide high secure services for mental health, as they are now able to apply for foundation trust status following a change in the law last year. The consultation will close in mid-February next year and the updated RAF will come into force in April.

Published 12 December 2014