The Government has today announced an 'NHS mental health workforce' that aims to see 21,000 more mental health workers recruited over the next five years.
The plan was put together by Health Education England and announced by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. It is hoped that the recruitment of thousands of additional nurses, therapists and consultants over the next five years will benefit an extra one million people who need support from mental health services by 2020-21.
Responding to this, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:
“This plan is welcome. The success of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health – the NHS’s plan for improving mental health services between now and 2021 – depends heavily on the capacity and quality of the workforce. The support of a great nurse, doctor, psychologist or social worker can make all the difference to people’s lives."
“A damaging lack of foresight in workforce planning in the past has led us to where we are now, with a significant gulf between what’s in place and what’s needed to deliver good quality care. Cuts to mental health services in recent years have led directly to posts being axed and taken its toll on morale, which has led to valued staff leaving mental health in frustration or burn-out. The scale of the challenge is clear, so we welcome the measures announced in this plan to attract people back to mental health and keep hold of them. It’s also good to see recognition of the importance of the multidisciplinary nature of mental health staff, such as peer support workers."
“Mental health services staff do a hugely important job and can make a real difference to the experiences of people accessing mental health services. It’s important to see a focus on the mental wellbeing of the workforce, not least because only when staff are well-supported by their employer can they do their best. Looking after staff also helps retain good people and improve the stability of the workforce in the long run."
“This plan takes us to 2021; we now need a longer-term, further-reaching strategy to build the kind of NHS mental health services that will carry us into the future, to cope with inevitable rising demand and to provide better integration of mental and physical health services. Such a strategy needs to include staff working in independent and voluntary sector services, and social care, as well as a commitment to developing a level of understanding of mental health for all frontline NHS staff working in non-mental health services. This will be particularly important in primary care – where currently less than half of trainee GPs undertake a training placement in a mental health setting. Mind is calling for all GPs and practice nurses to receive structured mental health training that is comprehensive, relevant and supports their ongoing development.”