The government has published a response to the independent Mental Health Taskforce’s “NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health” report, as produced for NHS England. The government accepts all of the taskforce report’s 58 recommendations, in full. Responses are made to many of these recommendations.
Five Year Forward View for Mental Health: government’s response. January 2017. London: HM Government (Department of Health / Public Health England / NHS England), January 9th 2017.
Shared Society Theme: Theresa May’s Proposals for Mental Health Care
Theresa May wishes to create a “shared society”, with the state taking on a greater role in ending unfairness. Allied to this, she has pledged to tackle the “hidden injustice” of mental illness. Her proposals include:
- Secondary schools will be offered mental health first aid training.
- There will be trials to explore the value of links between schools and NHS specialist staff. There will be a review of children and adolescent mental health services, led by the Care Quality Commission.
- Mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson, and Paul Farmer the chief executive of the charity Mind, will be appointed to review improving mental health support in the workplace.
- Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need time off work.
- There will be a focus on community care; with an extra £15 million of funding. There will be less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E.
- There will be an expansion of online services which allow symptom checks, prior to arranging face-to-face appointments.
- There will be a review of the “health debt form”, whereby patients are charged up to £300 by GPs for documentation for proof of mental health issues.
Theresa May promises mental health care overhaul. [Later re-titled, as: Mental health reforms to focus on young people, says PM]. London: BBC Politics News / BBC Health News, January 9th 2017.
Increasing Numbers of Patients Attending A&E With Mental Health Issues
Statistics compiled by NHS Digital for the BBC indicate that the number of patients attending A&E units with psychiatric problems rose by nearly 50% to 165,000 between 2011-12 and 2015-16.
Triggle, N. [and] Woodcock, S. (2017). Steep rise in A&E psychiatric patients’. London: BBC Health News, January 11th 2017.
Possibly also of interest, more the news suggesting the NHS may be in crisis:
Mental health care: ‘The system is broken’. London: BBC Health News, January 9th 2017.
Payment Approaches for Mental Health Services
NHS Improvement has issued new guidance on payment approaches to support commissioners and providers of mental health services. There are two different acceptable approaches: capitated and episodic.
New payment approaches for mental health services. London: NHS Improvement, January 2017.
Unexpected Deaths in Mental Health Trusts
Freedom of information (FOI) data from half of mental health trusts in England, obtained by BBC’s Panorama programme, indicate that the number of unexpected patient deaths (defined as deaths unanticipated and arising from suicide, neglect or misadventure) may have risen by roughly 50% over three years. The Department of Health believes such an apparent “increase” may be due to recent improvements in how such deaths are investigated and recorded.
The Health Foundation estimates that mental health trusts in England have had their funding cut by £150 million in real terms over the past four years; which is a trend the government has plans to remedy.
Hutchinson, S. (2017). Unexpected mental health deaths up 50% in three years. London: BBC Health News, February 6th 2017.