This paper offers a short history of routine clinical outcomes measurement (RCOM) in UK mental health services. RCOM developments in primary and secondary care are described, with reference to measures currently in widespread use or likely to be implemented. Assessment procedure and completion rates are discussed. Some of the forces operating in this field are enumerated. Comparison is made with UK attempts at routine outcomes measurement in public education. This field is thus reviewed for lessons for RCOM, and opportunities and challenges considered.