PATIENTS in Worcestershire with mental health problems do not know where to go when they need emergency help, a study has found.

Last week the Care Quality Commission released a national report showing people who had sought emergency help for mental health problems said they got better care from the police than they did from their GP, specialist teams or at A&E.

The report comes as patient’s watchdog Healthwatch Worcestershire has been carrying out a study into mental health services in the county.

A spokesman from the organisation said many patients had said they did not know who to contact in an emergency as well as a general lack of compassion and warmth among staff.

“Healthwatch Worcestershire is making an enquiry into mental health services and has been listening to the experiences of service users and carers from across the county in accessing crisis support,” he said. “We recognise many of the issues referred to in the report from the experiences that Worcestershire service users and their carers have reported to us.”

The Care Quality Commission report showed only 34 per cent of those who went to A&E with a mental health issue said they were treated with care and compassion, in comparison with 65 per cent who were helped by police. Meanwhile 28 per cent who spoke to their GP or specialist mental health team said they got the care they needed.

During the Healthwatch Worcestershire study representatives from the organisation have visited support groups across the county, including the Asha Women’s Centre in Bath Road, Worcester, and Malvern-based Positive Thoughts, where they found a general inconsistency of services, a lack of support out of hours and patients having to share their stories multiple times as a result of staff not sharing information.

The spokesman said: “Healthwatch Worcestershire believes these services could be improved and therefore our work on mental health continues with our task and finish group meeting in July.

“The group will look at how we can best influence the commissioning of mental health services based on service user and carer feedbacks.”

About five per cent of A&E attendances nationally are mental health-related.

Health experts have long said people with psychological problems are much better treated by specialist teams than at A&E or by police. Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, which is responsible for the majority of mental health services in the county, runs a 24-hour section 136 suite at Newtown Hospital, intended as a safe and comforting place for people in mental distress.

Deputy chief inspector of hospitals with the Care Quality Commission Dr Paul Lelliott – who is also the organisation’s mental health lead – said the report’s findings should act as “a wake-up call” to public services.

“The majority of people who have a mental health crisis experience it out of normal office hours,” he said. “The NHS and our other public services must make sure they are equipped to provide the specialist and urgent care that is needed around the clock.”

For more information on Healthwatch Worcestershire call 01386 550 264 or visit

Free health information and advice is available 24 hours a day on NHS 111.

In an emergency always call 999.