COVID-19: Interim Methodology for Mental Health Act monitoring visits

care quality commission

The independent regulator of health and social care in England

COVID-19 Update

Interim Methodology for Mental Health Act monitoring visits


08 April 2020

Dear colleague,  

Our primary objective during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to be to support you to keep people safe and doing what we can to reduce pressure during this time. We have worked with providers, stakeholders and teams across CQC to consider our options of minimising the impact of our statutory work with your services. 

Our role as the Mental Health Act monitoring body and a National Preventative Mechanism gives us unique duties and powers to review and, where appropriate, carry out investigations into the care and experience of people subject to the Mental Health Act in your services. 

After careful consideration, we will be introducing new remote monitoring methods to continue our monitoring of the use of the Mental Health Act. This will include collecting data from a range of sources via phone, email or video calls. If we believe there are risks of harm, ill-treatment or human rights breaches for people detained in services then we will, with oversight from the Chief Inspector, carry out additional activity which may include a site visit to your service.

We appreciate that increased restrictions will be in place for many services and the impact of these measures for individual patients will be the priority for our Mental Health Act monitoring, whether remotely or on site. We will focus on carrying out monitoring where there are known or emerging concerns, for example, allegations or complaints from people who are detained in the service.  


From 6 April 2020, we will ask our Mental Health Act Reviewers to;  

  1. Identify services that require MHA monitoring – based on emerging concerns and their previous contacts with the service.  
  2. For some services, a desk top activity will be carried out only and recorded by the regional team. Where more information is needed, the Mental Health Act Reviewer will be asked to announce their plans to monitor your service and begin a two-week programme of work. During this time, they will gather as much information as they can remotely, but they will also offer contact with local advocacy services or other local stakeholders to understand issues impacting detained patients.  
  3. During the review period, we will always contact you to arrange a convenient time and agree preferred methods of contact. We may ask to speak to ward staff, patients and their families and carers on the telephone or virtually. Following this, we will send a letter to you that summarise the review completed, including any action to be taken. 
  4. If the review finds concerns that indicate a site visit would be needed, this will be discussed with inspection teams and escalated for a final decision by me and our Chief Inspector of Hospitals.  

We will continue to update the processes as they are tested with our teams and your services. You can send any suggestions or questions to and we will be holding a webinar for all providers to join on Thursday 16 April 2020 at 3.00pm - 4.00pm where we will talk through the interim process and answer your questions.

Please register your interest in the webinar using this link and we will follow up with you by email.  

Yours sincerely

KC Sig

         Kevin Cleary,

         Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals (Mental Health)

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