A report released today (28 September 2017) by the Centre for Mental Health shows some concerning pressures on secondary mental health services in England and Wales. Working with the NHS Benchmarking Network (NHSBN) and using NHS data collected between 2012/2013 and 2015/2016, the report found:
- The number of acute inpatient beds for adults with mental health problems fell by 15 per cent
- Overall community mental health care provision fell: the number of people on community team caseloads fell by six per cent, staffing levels fell by four per cent and contacts reduced by seven per cent
- Staffing levels decreased in mental health acute settings by 20 per cent
- The proportion of people admitted under the Mental Health Act rose by 10 per cent - from 25 per cent to 35 per cent
Responding to the report, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind, said:
“This report clearly reinforces what we know about the enormous pressures on secondary mental health services in England and Wales between 2012 and 2016.
“Falling bed numbers have been explained away as part of a wider plan to offer alternatives, such as treatment at home, but it is clear from this data that this is not the case. High bed occupancy rates in hospitals at the same time as reduced capacity in community mental health services is an unsettling combination and suggests that people were having to reach crisis point – where they are self-harming, in psychosis or suicidal – before they got the help they needed. Rising numbers of detentions reflects this; more people are becoming more unwell and reaching the point where they need to be detained under the Mental Health Act, which indicates opportunities have been missed to get them help sooner and prevent crisis. This isn’t acceptable.
“We hear all the time of people unable to get through to crisis lines, or being told to have a cup of tea when they are feeling suicidal. Elsewhere, people are sent to hospitals outside of their local area, away from the support of family and friends, because no beds are available locally.
“Mental health services have 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 exactly the reason why it’s imperative that the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health is delivered in full. It is a clear plan for the next five years of mental health services with firm commitments to improve the access to, and quality of, care. There is a fully-funded plan to end out of area care by 2020 and to better resource community mental health teams. It is a plan that comes with money attached and sets out the first steps to start addressing years of neglect and cuts and build the kind of mental health services we need to take us into the future."