National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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NICE publishes new quality standard and guidance on service user experience in mental health

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today (14 December) published a new quality standard and clinical guidance on service user experience in adult mental health.

Over the past few years several documents and initiatives have highlighted the importance of the service user's experiencei and the need to focus on improving these experiences where possible. These include Lord Darzi's report High quality care for all' (2008)ii, which focused on the importance of the entire service user experience within the NHS, ensuring people are treated with compassion, dignity and respect within a clean, safe and well-managed environment. The Government also signalled in its white paper, ‘Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS' (2010)iii that more emphasis needs to be placed on improving service users' experience of NHS care.

To deliver the best possible experience for patients who use NHS services,

high quality care should be clinically effective and safe. This quality standard and clinical guidance will aim to ensure that patients have an excellent experience of care from the NHS.

The quality standard for service user experience in adult mental health contains a number of statements, which include ensuring that people can access mental health services when they need them. It also states that people using mental health services are actively involved in shared decision-making and supported in self-management. In addition the standard states that people in hospital for mental health treatment and care have access to meaningful and culturally appropriate activities 7 days a week, not restricted to 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.

The guidance for service user experience in adult mental health contains a number of recommendations for healthcare professionals that underpin the quality standard. These include:

  • Healthcare professionals working in partnership with people using mental health services and their families or carers. Offering help, treatment and care in an atmosphere of hope and optimism. Taking time to build trusting, supportive, empathetic and non-judgemental relationships as an essential part of care.
  • When working with people using mental health services, taking into account the stigma and discrimination that are often associated with using mental health services.

This guidance has been developed alongside the quality standard and aims to promote person-centred care that takes into account service users' needs, concerns and preferences.

Dr Fergus Macbeth, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said: “The aim of this quality standard and guidance is to improve the experience for people using adult mental health services in the NHS. This area is still, sadly, associated with stigma and embarrassment, despite 1 in 4 people in the UK suffering with a mental health problem at some stage in their livesiv. I am sure this guidance and accompanying standard will be helpful aids to all those working in this field”.

The quality standard and guidance will be available on the NICE website from Wednesday 14 December.

NICE commissioned the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health to develop the service user experience in adult mental health guidance and quality standard. The Centre established a Guidance Development Group, which reviewed the evidence and developed the recommendations.

For more information, please call the NICE press office on 0845 003 7782, or out of hours on 07775 583 813, or email

Notes to Editors

Please contact the press office for embargoed, advanced copies.

  • NICE quality standards (QS) are a set of specific, concise statements and measures that act as markers of high-quality, clinical and cost-effective patient care. They are the only standards that apply nationally in health and social care, and are developed from the very best available evidence, such as NICE guidance or other NHS Evidence-accredited sources. Quality standards are produced with the NHS and social care, along with their partners, service users and carers. They are a pivotal part of the new NHS Outcomes Frameworkv, an overview of aims and objectives in improving patient outcomes in the NHS.
  • There is more information on NICE quality standards at:
  • Quality standard topics are referred to NICE by ministers on the advice of the National Quality Board, a group of representatives from health and social care, committed to improving quality in the NHS and overseeing the reforms aimed at improving care. Further information on the National Quality Board can be found at:
  • NICE clinical guidance are recommendations on the appropriate treatment and care of people with specific diseases and conditions within the NHS in England and Wales. Clinical guidance is based on the best available evidence. Guidance helps healthcare professionals in their work, but does not replace their knowledge and skills.


i. Service users refer to the people who use mental health services. This new quality standard and clinical guidance focus on the service user's experience of adult mental health treatment and care, rather than on the service itself. For example, how do service users feel when they use such services? Is this experience positive or negative? It could perhaps be seen as the equivalent to the ‘customer service' a person might experience in the retail and service industry.

ii. Lord Darzi's report High quality care for all (2008) can be found at:

iii. The white paper, ‘Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS' (2010) can be found at:

iv. MIND.

v. The recently announced Transparency in Outcomes framework for the NHS proposes using quality standards to produce more detailed commissioning guidance to meet the suggested outcome goals. The NHS Outcomes Framework can be found at: