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12.09.16

CCGs must intervene early in mental healthcare, NHSCC says

Mental healthcare reform must involve early intervention to prevent more serious problems from developing, NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) has said.

A new report from NHSCC, ‘Support from the Start’, showcases four initiatives from CCGs as examples of the drive to improve mental healthcare.

The government promised an additional £1bn for mental health services in February after the National Mental Health Taskforce found that services were consistently failing to help patients.

Dr Phil Moore, chair of the NHSCC Mental Health Commissioners Network and deputy chair of Kingston CCG, said: “Mental healthcare has long been characterised as a Cinderella service and while recent years have seen it rightly move up the political agenda, reversing years of neglect won’t happen overnight. This is particularly the case with early intervention, as often services have only been available once a problem starts to severely impact an individual’s life, despite the difference that providing early support can make.

“An important step in moving towards there being more high-quality early intervention services available is sharing learning about those projects that exist. This is what we are doing through publishing ‘Support from the Start’, which centres on four excellent projects and contains advice from commissioners and practitioners involved in their development and delivery.

“Commissioners don’t need persuading of the importance of mental health – as front-line clinicians and GPs like myself, we see the impact that poor mental health has on our patients every day. We understand the importance of first-class services being available and are determined to make this happen.”

Four positive initiatives

Hounslow CCG, in partnership with London Borough of Hounslow Council, held 10-week resilience courses for school pupils, which led to a reported 15% reduction in students’ anxiety and depression levels.

After finding that its psychosis team’s workloads were too high, Salford CCG approved funding to recruit four and a half more support workers, an assistant practitioner and five care co-ordinators.

Coventry and Rugby CCG reviewed its maternal mental health services after the death of a mother in its care was found to be preventable. The review found services were fragmented because Coventry Primary Care Trust commissioned maternal mental health services, but there were no equivalent services in Rugby.

It therefore joined with Warwickshire North and South Warwickshire CCGs to commission services that were available across the region.

Kernow CCG commissioned a service to provide face-to-face and practical support for those bereaved through suicide in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The NHSCC report concluded that these programmes showed the importance of a number of issues in commissioning mental health services.

These include understanding the true impact of mental ill health, engaging with patients, developing strong working relationships and evidence and evaluation.

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