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Mental health report reveals “ambitious” £1bn improvements

15 February 2016

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Mental health looks set for a shake-up as bold new aspirations have been set out by NHS England’s Mental Health Taskforce.

The report, The Five Year Forward View For Mental Health, released today, called for, one million extra people to be provided with support for their mental health problem by 2020/21, and was branded by Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of GPs, as “encouraging, ambitious and admirable.”

NHS England has welcomed the report from the independent Taskforce and has committed to delivering the recommendations, backed by £1billion of new funding in the annual NHS budget by 2020.

However, there must be better GP access to mental health services in the community so practices can deliver the care that patients need, close to their homes, Baker added.

“As we move forward we would like to ensure every GP practice has easy access to trained mental health workers who can deliver therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and other talking therapies, that have been found to be incredibly beneficial for patients. This way our patients can access these important and effective services when they need them, not 28 days or more later, as is currently often the case,” she added.

The report also revealed that training is lacking, as more than four out of five practice nurses have responsibilities for which they have not been trained, with 42% having no training at all in mental health, according to the Royal College of GPs.

“Primary care staff are not yet fully equipped to provide high quality mental health care,” the report stated.

The key recommendations are:

  • Urgent action to ensure that people from black and minority ethnic communities, who often have problems accessing good quality mental health care and have lost faith in services, have the help they need.
  • People facing a crisis should have access to mental health care 24/7 – right care, right place, and right time.
  • People’s mental and physical health should be treated equally – including people with severe mental health problems, women in the perinatal period, children and young people.
  • All areas of society, such as schools, workplaces and community organisations need to contribute to the promotion of good mental health and prevention of mental health problems – in all areas of people’s lives.

The RCGP are“particularly encouraged” by the proposals to expand child mental health services and provide better support for women with perinatal mental health problems – a clinical priority for the College, they said.

Prime Minister David Cameron commented: “The Taskforce has set out how we can work towards putting mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing and I am committed to making sure that happens.”

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