Mind comments on the Darzi Review
Posted Monday 30 June 2008
Lord Darzi has today set the course for future mental health care with a review that for the first time puts mental health at the heart of the NHS. However, leading mental health charity Mind warns that there are still areas of inequality on the road ahead that must be urgently addressed. For example, the conditions of some inpatient wards where vulnerable patients are routinely accommodated on mixed sex wards are unacceptable.
Commenting on the reforms, Mind Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
"Mental health has finally been given the priority it deserves in this review. The commitment to bring mental health into the mainstream and out of the margins is welcome but it won't be easy while mental health and physical health are still segregated in the eyes of the NHS and wider society."
"We have a two-track system in the NHS where one part looks after your mental health, another your physical health. This does not reflect the complexities of most peoples' health needs. Proposals for services that are tailored to individuals and more responsive to local communities will make a real difference to patients' everyday experiences. However, radical reform will only be truly achieved when experiencing a mental health problem is as acceptable and easily understood as a physical health problem."
Mind highlights the following key areas where inequality must be tackled by the next generation NHS:
- There is great disparity between mental health wards and other NHS wards. More than?one third of mental health wards are run over capacity and patients report feeling intimidated and frightened on some wards. This environment would not be tolerated in other parts of the NHS (1). Many trusts have made positive enhancements to ward conditions but a compulsory kitemark system for mental health wards would ensure that basic minimum standards are maintained.
- One in five NHS Trusts resorts to mixed sex wards (2), but when looking specifically at mental health 68 per cent of patients were accommodated on mixed sex wards last year (3). Such wards are notorious for incidents of sexual harassment and abuse. We must see a commitment to abolish mixed sex mental health wards.
- People with mental health problems are likely to develop serious health conditions such as heart disease at an earlier age and to die of them sooner than other people (4). We need to see better physical and mental health outcomes in the NHS of the future.
- People with mental health problems often experience unacceptable levels of ignorance and discrimination by health professionals in primary care services. Public attitudes towards people with mental health problems have also worsened in recent years (5). There must be an improvement in understanding of mental health issues by NHS staff and a measurable shift in public opinion about mental health.
- Access to talking treatments remains at best patchy and in some parts of the country non-existent (6). While the government has recently announced major investment to expand its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme, it won?t be enough to cover the whole population. The next phase NHS must make prescribing psychological therapies as easy as prescribing antidepressants.
(1) Mental Health Act Commission (2008) Risks, Rights and Recovery
(2) Department of Health (2007) Privacy and dignity - A Report by the Chief Nursing Officer into Mixed Sex Accommodation in Hospitals.
(3) Healthcare Commission (2007) Count Me In Census
(4) Disability Rights Commission (2005) Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap
(5) Department of Health, Attitudes to Mental Illness Research Report (2008)
(6) Mind (2006) Snapshot research with GPs and practice managers found that in some parts of the country patients are waiting up to fours years to access cognitive behavioural therapy
Notes to editors
Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. We work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress. www.mind.org.uk
For more information, interviews and a range of case studies please contact Mind press office on T: 020 8522 1743 M: 07850 788514 E: email@example.com
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