A report by NHS Providers today highlights concern over mental health services, particularly funding and staffing.
The report, carried out by the membership organisation and trade association for the NHS acute, ambulance, community and mental health services that treat patients and service users in the NHS, is based on a survey of NHS mental health trust chairs and chief executives.
Among other things, the survey found:
- More than 70% expect demand to increase this year
- Fewer than one in three is confident they have enough staff to deliver existing services let alone extending or creating new services. In particular, trusts are struggling to recruit enough mental health nurses and psychiatrists
- 10% say their local trust is managing demand and planning for unmet need for key mental health services, including those for children and young people
- 80% say extra money intended for mental health at a national level is still not getting through to NHS mental health trusts operating frontline services
Responding to this, Paul Farmer CBE, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“This report shows the scale of the challenge facing NHS mental health services, which is starting to be met as decades of underinvestment are rectified. As public attitudes towards mental health start to improve, we are seeing more and more people come forward and seek the help they need.
“The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health came with a commitment by the NHS to spend £1billion more on mental health services by 2020-21. Evidence suggests that it is materialising and reaching the frontline but it is concerning to see that people don’t think this is happening. Local commissioners are now required to report on spend on mental health so transparency around funding should improve and charities like Mind will be keeping an eye on this and making sure the money gets where it needs to be.
“The workforce is crucial to the success of the Five Year Forward View. Staff working in mental health services do a fantastic job and can make all the difference to the experience of people under their care. The forthcoming workforce strategy needs to make it as easy as possible for people to work in mental health, to encourage the workforce to grow and meet demand.
"Mental health has been underfunded and under-resourced for too long, with dire consequences for people with mental health problems. If people don’t get the help they need, when they need it, they are likely to become more unwell and need more intensive – and expensive – support further down the line. This is the opportunity to get this right, to start building the kind of NHS mental health services that will carry us into the future and make sure everyone with a mental health problem gets the help and support they need.”