The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) ceased to function at the end of March 2004. This provides the opportunity to review its contribution and achievements as a new body, the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAI), takes over its functions∗. CHI recently published its assessment of mental health services (http://www.chi.nhs.uk/eng/news/2003/dec/11.shtml). The report is based on the 35 clinical governance reviews, in England and Wales, published between July 2001 and October 2003; two investigations into serious service failures; and a report on safeguarding arrangements for children in England and a self-audit of child protection arrangements. CHI concluded that mental health services lag behind acute health services in developing clinical governance systems and processes that promote high-quality care and continuous improvement. It specifically highlighted the shortages of psychiatrists and in-patient nurses, and the reliance on agency nurses and locum staff; the unsuitability of buildings and facilities; the pressures on in-patient beds; the lack of management capacity and poor information systems; and the low priority given to services for children and older people.