Mental health ‘after-care’ services inspection for Dorset

In September 2022, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an inspection to assess the provision of section 117 of the Mental Health Act in Dorset – the ‘after-care’ support people receive in the community after treatment for mental health issues. The inspection looked at the collaborative working between Dorset HealthCare, NHS Dorset and Dorset Council.

The resulting report, which has just been published, found many positives. The CQC was impressed that this work was given so much focus by senior leaders in the three organisations, saying that other NHS trusts and local councils could learn from the Dorset approach. It found that discharge planning began at the point people were admitted to hospital, involving patients and their families, and that discharge delays were generally kept to a minimum. The report also noted there was a strong commitment to partnership working across the agencies, with effective communication between NHS teams and council social care colleagues, and that people receiving after-care were well supported by community teams.

However, the report also highlighted some concerns. Inspectors found there was insufficient reference to after-care in patient care planning, as well as a lack of information provided to patients and families about after-care support.

A detailed action plan has been prepared to help us address these issues. It aims to obtain feedback from patients involved in the inspection process to help inform future planning, provide more after-care information to the public and put in place better information-sharing arrangements between partners.

We would like to thank all those concerned who were involved with the inspection.

Care Quality Commission (CQC)