About the programme

About the programme

What is the project about?

This programme is designed to support significant improvements in both culture and practice within our mental health services. Its primary focus is to align our operations with the ambitious aims of the Mental Health Act reforms, fostering an environment where care under the Act is both effective and compassionate. By targeting key areas of improvement, the programme seeks to create a more inclusive and equitable partnership between those providing and those receiving inpatient care.


Why has this project come about?

The context for this initiative is rooted in the Government's 2021 White Paper, Reforming the Mental Health Act. This document accepted many recommendations from the 2018 Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, laying out a series of reforms aimed at transforming care under the Act. The White Paper emphasised four guiding principles for these reforms:

  1. Promoting patient choice and autonomy
  2. Applying the Mental Health Act in the least restrictive way possible
  3. Ensuring care delivers therapeutic benefit
  4. Ensuring people are views and treated as individuals, with respect for racial equality

While significant legislative reforms were proposed, the White Paper recognised that legislative changes alone would be insufficient to achieve the broader cultural and practical improvements necessary. Hence, one of its key recommendations was for NHS England to implement a national QI programme to support these essential improvements.


What is our aim?

Our focus is to improve the equity of experience for people from ethnically diverse backgrounds and people with a learning disability & autistic people when detained under the Mental Health Act in hospitals across England, including improving the cultural appropriateness of care they receive.

This is in line with the principles of the Mental Health Act reforms and their focus on establishing a more equitable partnership between those providing and receiving inpatient care  - supporting patients and their supporters to feel that their care is inclusive of their diverse characteristics and needs.

Learn more about the Mental Health Act Reforms

Background and overview of key reforms, guiding principles, and proposed legislative and non-legislative changes

MHA Reforms crib-sheet

About the team

 About the team

The Mental Health Act QI Programme Delivery Team

Our team comprises a diverse group of individuals, including lived experience practitioners, expert advisors and professionals with expertise in quality improvement and transformation in mental health services.

Virginia Mason Institute (VMI) and The PSC have partnered for the MHA QI Programme, bringing together individuals with expertise in quality improvement, transformation, and organisational and leadership development. 

Our team has combined experience and expertise in coaching and mentoring organisations and individuals through continuous improvement, change and transformation; embedding a focus on equity, inclusion and diversity in our quality improvement tools and methods.

We work closely and collaboratively with leaders and teams to solve complex challenges, and deliver on-the-ground co-produced change across health and care organisations:

  • VMI has worked in partnership with the NHS for over 14 years to develop people-centred QI systems, to dramatically improve quality and reduce inequity
  • The PSC are an award-winning public sector consultancy, with a track-record in delivering quality improvement to enhance outcomes in mental health services



1. What are the expectations from executives and senior leaders of participating organisations?

We expect executives and senior leaders of participating organisations to give full backing to:

  • Their organisation's involvement in the programme
  • The service/ward team in developing, implementing and sustaining their change ideas
  • Proportionate data collection to inform programme evaluation


2. Our Trust recently signed up to the Culture of Care Programme. How do the two programmes fit together?

NHS England is working closely with suppliers of both the Culture of Care and Mental Health Act QI programmes, to ensure a cohesive and supportive offer for provider organisations across England. In practice, that means that you can sign up for both programmes – it simply means that more of your front-line teams will have opportunities to get involved and receive support. For Trusts interested in and taking part in both programmes, we’ll make sure that it feels joined up and that the Trust is not inundated with comms.


3. Is the programme still open to join the new phase of wider implementation?

Unfortunately, this programme is now closed for joining. However, the Culture of Care programme is open for those interested. The Culture of Care programme will support organisations to improve the culture of inpatient mental health, learning disability and autism wards across England. It will ensure patients and staff feel wards are safe, therapeutic and equitable places to be cared for, and fulfilling places to work.

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