The Voice of Kent Residents Driving Improvements to Mental Health Services

Watching the Panorama programme this week has reminded everyone about the importance of health services working together to support vulnerable patients like Callie Lewis who used community mental health services, services for Autism and Asperger's.
Cogs, Mental health, Neurological

Healthwatch Kent have been working with service users, carers and the services themselves for some time to raise areas for improvement and where there is good practice.

Together with Healthwatch Medway, our volunteers visited Community Mental Health services in 2018 to talk to patients about their experience of the service. These visits used our statutory power which is called Enter & View. You can read our reports and the 2018 findings on our website. 

Recently we revisited same six Community Mental Health clinics to see what changes have been made since our first reports. We spoke to 128 patients and 25 carers. They told us about:

  • Challenges for patients to get through on the telephone
  • When people miss an appointment, they don’t always get a call to check they are ok
  • People often didn’t get a response if they left a message


  • Many families and carers were involved in drafting the care plan for their relative
  • Some sites were very good at offering an alternative date if the clinic had to cancel an appointment
  • Lots of people knew who to contact if they felt they were in crisis

We are publishing our findings today which you can read on our website.

Through our network of Mental Health groups, which gathers feedback from people with mental health illnesses and carers across Kent, we have highlighted the experiences of adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder who also use mental health services.  We work closely with local organisations MEGAN, Involve, Mental Health Resource in West Kent, West Kent Mind, Rethink, SpeakUp and Take Off who all speak to people across Kent about their experiences. We published a report detailing stories about people with multiple diagnoses who have fallen between services, which highlighted the lack of clear information and support available. As a result, health and social care commissioners are now working together, and a new Autistic Spectrum Condition service is being set up later this year.

Healthwatch Kent also spoke to young people and their carers about their experiences of autism services and found several areas for improvement. The report and recommendations can be found here. Following this report Healthwatch has been heavily involved in developing improvements for young people, and ensuring that parents, carers and the young people themselves are involved in designing the solutions.

We will continue to raise the voices of patients and carers to help improve services. In the meantime, we would encourage anyone with an experience (good or bad) to get in touch with us.

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