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07.04.16

New national clinical director for mental health promises performance targets

The newly appointed national clinical director (NCD) for mental health has promised new waiting times targets and greater integration of physical and mental healthcare to address the crisis in NHS treatment for mental illness.

Professor Tim Kendall was appointed to the post as the government promised an additional £1bn investment in mental health services by 2020, following a damning report into mental health services which found that three-quarters of people with problems receive no help at all.

In a blogpost for NHS England, Professor Kendall, previously the medical director at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS FT, said that the NHS will soon introduce access and waiting time standards similar to the performance targets for physical care to try to ensure patients can access treatment more quickly.

He also said that the NHS will “reconfigure” primary and secondary services to end the separation of physical and mental healthcare, which costs an estimated £11bn each year.

Professor Kendall said: “We have to boldly change the delivery of physical and mental healthcare to ensure everyone has timely access to appropriate mental healthcare where and when they need it. No small challenge! So, it is with excitement, if not more than a little trepidation, that I start my new role.”

On Monday, Lord Prior of Brampton defended the decision by the government to concentrate funding on NCDs for priority areas such as mental health, maternity care, cancer, diabetes and emergency care and cut NCDs for specialist areas such as neurology.

Professor Kendall’s improvements to mental healthcare in Sheffield included the elimination of out-of-area treatments, the modernisation of the acute and crisis care pathways and the development of NICE recommended personality disorder services within the community.

He will continue in his roles as consultant psychiatrist to the homeless at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS FT and director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

(Image c. Dominic Lipinski from PA Wire)

 

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