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Archive June 2018

The National Audit Office (NAO) has released a damning report into Universal Credit (UC) – with a focus on how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has not done enough to protect and support “vulnerable claimants” including disabled people and people with health conditions.

The report says that because of the pressures of delivering UC, staff “lacked the time and ability to identify claimants who needed additional support’ and ‘felt overwhelmed by the volume of claimants reporting health problems’. The report also says that the DWP’s resistance to making changes ‘gives the unhelpful impression of a Department that is unsympathetic to claimants.”

The NAO has recommended that the Government does not expand the roll out of Universal Credit to existing claims (including over 1m people with mental health problems currently receiving Employment and Support Allowance) until it has fixed problems with the system.

Separate research released by the DWP last week found that one in four Universal Credit claimants reported having a health condition that significantly affected their day to day lives. It also found that:

  • 50% of people with long-term health conditions receiving Universal Credit reported being in financial difficulty and struggling to keep up with bills and credit commitments.
  • Health and disability was the single most common reason why people receiving Universal Credit struggled to meet work search requirements. (This applied to 48% of people who were unable to meet their requirements)
  • Only 30% of people with a long-term health condition said that Universal Credit was easier to claim than other benefits.

Full story: National Mind

New research for Mind has shown soap storylines, news reports, documentaries, dramas and celebrity interviews which explore mental health, have all helped more people to feel less alone, start conversations about mental health and support each other.

Research for Mind has found that 1 in 3 people (31%) feel “less alone” following news coverage of mental health – a rise of 22% since 2016.

It follows a year of high profile media coverage including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex’ Heads Together campaign, Danny Rose becoming the first playing England footballer to speak out about depression and ITV’s Coronation Street putting a focus on suicide and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

The findings come as the Mind Media Awards 2018 open for entries. The awards celebrate the best reporting and portrayals of mental health in the media. Mind is now calling on journalists, producers and podcasters from TV, radio, print and online media to submit work, which has shone a light on mental health and challenged negative stereotypes.

The research also shows almost a third of people (28%) started a conversation about mental health following news reports and more than half (53%) said the Royal Family had got the whole nation talking about mental health.

Meanwhile, one in four people (26%) who saw a mental health storyline in a soap contacted a friend, colleague or loved one experiencing mental health problems and 16% sought help for themselves from a health professional.

The public also considered TV broadcasters (81%) or newspaper journalists (79%) as having more influence in contributing to the public’s attitudes to mental health than teachers (75%) or politicians (70%).

Full story: National Mind

The majority of people who stayed as an inpatient in hospital were happy with the care they received, had confidence in the doctors and nurses treating them and had a better overall experience, according to a national survey from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

However, people with mental health problems generally report a poorer experience when they stay in hospital.

The 2017 inpatient survey asked over 70,000 adults who had stayed in hospital for at least one night during July last year said about the care they received.

The survey asked people to give their opinions on the care they received, including quality of information and communication with staff, whether they were given enough privacy, the amount of support given to help them eat and drink and help with personal hygiene, and on arrangements to discharge them from hospital.

For a second year running, responses were less positive across most areas for people with a mental health problem than those without.

Those with mental health problems said they had less confidence and trust in hospital staff, and thought they were treated with less respect and dignity and felt less informed about their care. They also gave lower than average scores in relation to whether their needs, values and preferences were fully considered, and for the quality of the coordination and integration of their care.

This repeats a trend found in the results of CQC’s 2017 surveys of children and young people and patients using A&E.

Full story: National Mind