Salford Community Mental Health Services Mystery Shop 2017

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Summary of report content

This report was produced at the request of users of mental health services in Salford and the project was designed to address barriers to mental health services that have been expressed to Healthwatch Salford over a period of time. Healthwatch Salford had received some comments and referrals through the Mental Health Service User Forum (MHSUF) about accessing services and waiting times.


  • A group of service users undertook a mystery shopping exercise to assess the effectiveness of the telephone service of a range of community mental health services for adults in Salford, including registered service providers and VSCE groups and organisations. The group felt that it was important that the telephone responder gives out accurate information in an inclusive way or signposted the caller on appropriately.
  • Eight community mental health support services in Salford; including registered service providers and VSCE groups and organisations, were identified as potential ‘mystery shop’ areas of interest. Fourteen questionnaires reflecting scenarios around the protected characteristics were created alongside an accessible information telephone questionnaire.
  • The phone services for eight key mental health service providers in Salford were inconsistent. The inconsistency was experienced by group as potentially discriminatory.
  • The attitude of the frontline staff answering the phones was sometimes good, often acceptable but occasionally poor or very poor.
  • It was noted that the receptionist is often the first point of contact to people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or related to someone who is in distress. A poor experience could deter someone who is in crisis from seeking additional help.
  • People may have additional impairments or language barriers that are preventing them from communicating clearly. It is up to the service provider to make the reasonable adjustments required by equality legislation to provide an equal service to all. If front line staff are not doing this consistently, and the indications from this small sample suggests that this may sometimes be the case, then it could lead to serious problems that cost the mental health services money and time, either through an increase in the severity of the mental health problem, or through non-compliance with equality legislation
  • Through poor telephone responses, mental health services in the city may also be missing the opportunity to provide essential support to the most vulnerable people in society
  • All the phone systems used throughout the service are different – different voices, menus and options. A more consistent, streamlined service would help people to navigate the complexity of the system


The suggestions for actions which have come out of the report, if they are implemented appropriately, may help to ensure that users of mental health services are better able to access the right services that exist in the City of Salford, cutting down on duplication and additional costs due to wasted appointments, increased distress caused by accessing services inappropriate to need, and potential charges of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.


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General details

Report title 
Salford Community Mental Health Services Mystery Shop 2017
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Salford
Date of publication 
Thursday, 5 December, 2019
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 January, 2017
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 31 March, 2017
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing
Quality of care
Quality of staffing
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Staff attitudes
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Community services 
Community based services for people with mental health needs

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Vision impairment
Types of long term conditions 
Mental health condition

Details of people who shared their views

Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Not applicable
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not applicable
Does the information include staff's views? 
Not applicable
Does the information include other people's views? 
Not applicable
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.