NHS publish latest version of the Mental Health Minimum Dataset


This fifth annual report on NHS adult specialist mental health services in England and the people who use them covers five years with the most recent information for 2010/11. It covers hospital care and services delivered in the community.

This year, for the first time, data from a small number of NHS funded independent sector providers of specialist mental health services are included and almost all the patients in these services spent time in hospital.

The Mental Health Minimum Dataset is the data source which will be used for Payment By Results and is an essential source of information for all those interested in planning or commissioning services or monitoring what is delivered. It is also being used by researchers.

Here are the headlines from the full report:

  • The number of people using services in 2010/11 rose to 1,287,730 which included a rise for NHS services only of 1.2 per cent since 2009/10. This represents a rate of access to NHS funded services in England of 2,789 per 100,000 population or approximately 1 in 36 people
  • Although the number of people using services rose slightly, the proportion of people using NHS services who spent time in hospital during the year continued on a downward trend (8.1 per cent in 2010/11)
  • Rates of access to all NHS funded services are also presented by Primary Care Trust (PCT) and show considerable variation across the country. High rates may reflect high need, good access to services, GP referral patterns or a combination of these. The PCTs with the highest rates of access were Brighton and Hove City PCT, Walsall Teaching PCT, Barnsley PCT, Bury PCT and Northumberland Care Trust – all with rates greater than 5,000 per 100,000 (1 in 20 people). The report also shows the proportion of service users who spent time in hospital by PCT. Nationally one in eleven service users spent time in NHS funded hospital services during the year
  • The fall in the proportion of service users spending time in hospital is consistent with the 2.2 per cent fall in the number of average daily occupied NHS beds (from 21,553 in 2009/10 to 21,076 in 2010/11). During this time the number of NHS beds may have fallen and if so this will have been reflected in these figures
  • For people who did spend time in hospital during the year the average number of bed days was high. Mean in year bed days in the NHS for men were 78 and for women were 68. For independent sector providers however, the corresponding figures were 246 and 209. It is not clear how representative the three independent sector providers who returned data this year are of the sector as a whole, however, other data sources show that these three providers accounted for over 40 per cent of independent sector formal detentions in 2010/11, so these initial figures are of interest.

This report is intended to be used by policy makers, commissioners, mental health service users, researchers, members of the public and any other readers for whom a comprehensive national picture of the use of NHS funded specialist mental health services in England will be useful.

Mental Health Bulletin: Fifth report from Mental Health Minimum Dataset (MHMDS) annual returns, 2011 (PDF). NHS Information Centre, 29 Nov 2011.

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Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He's worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service; an innovative digital platform that helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland!

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