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19.07.16

Mental health funding must reach the front line, warns NHS Confed CEO

Transforming NHS mental health services requires a commitment from the government to ensuring that additional funding reaches the front line, the chief executive of NHS Confederation, Stephen Dalton, has said.

NHS England published its plan for how it will implement the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) ambitions for mental health today.

The government promised an additional £1bn in funding for mental health after the mental health taskforce report found widespread shortcomings in care for vulnerable patients.

Dalton said: “The additional funding is vital and it’s essential that we now receive further clarity about how we can be assured that promised investment reaches the front line. Theresa May demonstrated a clear commitment to mental health in her first speech as prime minister and can help end the delays in funding reaching those in need.”

The CEO added that he hoped the plan shows how the NHS and national partners will support local organisations in providing mental health care at a time when they are “stretched to capacity”.

The latest report from the Health Select Committee, published today, warns that the FYFV does not have sufficient funding and planning to deliver the efficiency savings needed in the NHS.

Under the plan, the NHS will spend £72m over the next two years on improving integration of health and mental care.

A recent King’s Fund report also warned that treating the problems separately costs the NHS £11bn a year.

The plan sets a number of targets for mental health care by 2020-21, including treatment for an additional 70,000 children and young people and perinatal treatment for an additional 30,000 mothers.

All local areas are required to republish their Local Transformation Plans for children and young people’s mental health by October, explaining how they will use additional funds provided.

Recent research has found that 28% of children are turned away from mental health services and it can take as much as ten years for them to access treatment.

NHS England is also rolling out £12m liaison and diversion services to allow people in the courts system or police stations to access mental health systems, which should be available across the country by 2020.

It is working with partners including Health Education England to develop a mental health workforce development strategy, and with Public Health England to develop multi-agency local suicide prevention plans, with the aim of reducing suicides by 10%, which will be implemented by 2017.

NHS England, NHS Improvement, NHS Digital (formerly HSCIC), Health Education England and the Department of Health are also working together to improve standards on collecting mental health data.

NHS England will also work to support the mental and physical wellbeing of staff, including through incentives for organisations that promote staff health, mental and physical health checks and pilots of a mindfulness app called 'Headspace'.

Dr Phil Moore, chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners’ mental health commissioners network, welcomed the report, saying: “The additional investment in mental health services promised today is vital for turning ambitions into reality.”

(Image c. Dominic Lipinski from PA Wire)

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