A fourteen year failure to regulate community mental health services: families demand answers | Freedom of Information Archive | PPR

A fourteen year failure to regulate community mental health services: families demand answers

Questions for the Department of Health following a court ruling on the regulation of Community Mental Health Services Mental Health Rights | Tue Jun 20 2023

Following the recent legal challenge by Paul Herbert, which resulted in the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) acknowledging that it had been ‘misdirected in law’ PPR have written to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health to ask him how the Department intends to respond. Read the questions families have for the Department below:

  1. Can the Department please explain why statutory Community Mental Health services were not regulated for 14 years?
  2. Why did the Department for Health fail to act once this gap in regulation was brought to your attention?
  3. Can the Department clarify whether a different regulatory regime exists in respect of private and charitable mental health services provided in the community, to that which pertains in the statutory community mental health services, and if so, why this is the case?
  4. Please provide a full list of community mental health services that have not been regulated since 2009.
  5. Could the Department of Health clarify how many individuals are currently in receipt of support from statutory community mental health services across NI and therefore, the number of people potentially affected by this regulatory failure?
  6. Why is the RQIA not required to inspect community mental health services on a statutory timescale and is the Department of Health planning to address this gap in the regulatory framework?
  7. How will the Department assess the impact of the failure to regulate community mental health services by the RQIA? Is it planning to engage in an independent process to assess this?
  8. What steps is the Department planning to take to identify and implement the learning from this failure to regulate community mental health services and how do you intend to communicate any consequent changes in approach and delivery to mental health service users?
  9. What steps will the Department take to rebuild the loss of credibility in RQIA and to restore public confidence?
  10. Could the Department set out what additional financial, personnel and capacity building resources it intends to provide to the RQIA in order to support it to meet the identified gap in regulation?
  11. What plans do the Department and RQIA have to include people in receipt of community mental health services in the design and delivery of their newly accepted role in the regulation of community mental health services?
  12. Finally, we would request that the Department of Health provide clarity as to the RQIA’s enforcement powers in respect of in-patient mental health service. In accordance with Article 39 of the HPSS (Quality, Improvement and Regulation)  (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, the RQIA has powers to engage in formal escalation or enforcement action, in accordance with its Escalation and/or Enforcement Policies and Procedures. Furthermore, the RQIA may recommend that the Department take special measures in relation to a service provider. Please explain what is involved in formal escalation, enforcement and special measures and provide details of when and where each of these powers has been used in relation to in-patient mental health settings and the respective outcomes.