Editor's Comment

02.03.16

Prioritising change in mental health

Source: NHE Mar/Apr 16

In this edition there is a special focus on mental health, particularly how we fund and deliver services going forward while making them easily accessible. 

Following the launch of the long-awaited Mental Health Taskforce’s report, we spoke to its chair, Paul Farmer, who suggests that we are at the start of a 10-year journey which will, hopefully, result in physical and mental health parity. 

But in order to get there many obstacles have to be overcome. For instance, there is much to be done to break down the stigma associated with mental ill health and labelling people with conditions, as Chris Langer from CIRAS writes on page 58. There are also calls for the NHS to deliver services differently and in a more integrated way, which can be highlighted by the new Forward Thinking Birmingham initiative (more on page 62). 

These are just a couple of areas that have to be addressed alongside the fact that mental health has, historically, been short of qualified staff and deprived of funds. It is, therefore, a welcome sign that the government has agreed to invest an extra £1bn each year in the mental health budget by 2020. But we must remember we are just at the start of the journey.

As well as focusing on the changing mental health landscape, we look at how mindfulness courses can help safeguard the mental wellbeing of NHS staff and what impact the science of human factors can have on driving improvement and safety in healthcare settings.

The most recent NHS staff survey revealed that a third of respondents reported work-related stress in the past 12 months, and that bullying and harassment are prevalent problems in the NHS. Writing for us, Shirley Cramer, CEO of the Institute of Healthcare Management, says that these findings should send a stark warning to NHS leaders that their greatest asset (people) is in danger of being neglected. Even Lord Carter’s efficiency review, which suggests £5bn can be saved by 2020 in the acute sector, has recommended creating a people strategy to deliver a more engaged environment for all NHS staff from ‘ward to board’. 

There is also an insightful look into the future potential for accountable care organisations in the NHS, the role of the new regulator NHS Improvement, and we consider the impact of revalidation for nurses and midwives.

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