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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Quality Network for Forensic Mental Health Services

Quality Network for Forensic Mental Health Services

The Quality Network for Forensic Mental Health Services adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to quality improvement in medium and low secure mental health services. A key component of our work is the sharing of best practice by listening to and being led by frontline staff and patients.

The Network serves to identify areas for improvement through a culture of openness and enquiry. The model is one of engagement rather than inspection. We aim to facilitate quality improvement through a supportive network and peer-review process.

Members are expected to use the results of reviews to develop action plans to achieve year on year improvement. They are also expected to share their results throughout their services as well as with key stakeholders, including health and local authorities, those making referrals to their services and local patient and family and friend groups.
Participating services are able to benchmark their practice against similar services and demonstrate the quality of care they provide.

The Review Cycle

The review cycle is structured in two stages over a two year period; the first stage is a full review and the second is a developmental quality improvement or ‘QI’ phase.

At the beginning of each cycle the standards are reviewed, either by a wide consultation exercise or a minor revision, before being issued for use.

Stage 1: Full review

The diagram below illustrates the first stage of the two-year review cycle.

As part of the full review, services complete a comprehensive self-review document. They are asked to provide a self-rated score and commentary against each standard and submit accompanying evidence. Additionally, questionnaires are distributed to service staff, patients, and family and friends.

The information collected at the self-review phase forms the basis for a peer-review visit. A visiting peer-review team follows a structured timetable and meets with those working in and using the service to validate the information provided at self-review. A service tour and a check of the perimeter are also conducted to form part of an environmental check.

At the end of the peer-review visit, the visiting team will provide preliminary findings to the host service, drawing on any key areas of achievement and challenges. The data collected is collated in the form of a service report, summarising areas of good practice and areas in need of improvement. It also reflects on any progress made since the previous review visit. It is expected that the service engages in an action planning phase in order to promote service development. A template is provided to ensure plans are completed consistently across the Network and to introduce a more targeted approach to quality improvement.

At the end of each year, an annual forum is hosted by the Network to celebrate the successes of member services and to provide learning opportunities for areas in need of development. The day comprises of presentations, project updates, good practice workshops and poster presentations.

Stage 2: Developmental ‘QI’ review

The diagram below illustrates the second stage of the two-year review cycle.

Following on from the full review visit you received the year previously, you will review and expand on the outcomes from the visit. This is an opportunity for a focused self-review and reflects on the progress being made as part of action planning. This brief update document is used as a tool to structure the discussions on the QI day.

The QI visit takes place over a day period. It is designed to allow time for meaningful discussion and to provide services with the opportunity to maximise the knowledge and expertise within the Network to develop their practices. Meetings are conducted with service managers, frontline staff, patients, family and friends. The day closes with a feedback session to reflect on progress since the previous full review and to offer guidance over the coming year.

A short developmental report is produced summarising the actions taken since the previous review and key discussions from the QI day. Services engage in a further action planning phase to reflect on the feedback received. The original action plan is reviewed and built upon to encourage continual development ahead of the next full review visit.

As in stage 1, members can take advantage of an annual forum. In addition, an aggregated report is published providing member services with a national overview of quality improvement in forensic mental healthcare. It showcases areas of good practice and highlights areas for improvement, and offers recommendations for the future. Member services can also benchmark their practices against other similar services.

Quality Network for Prison Mental Health Services
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Joining the network

News & email discussion group

Annual report & forum material



Advisory Group




see think act

The relational security guide 

Contact Us

If you would like more information regarding the Network you can speak to one of the team.

You may also be interested in the RCPsych Faculty of Forensic Psychiatry.