NHS bosses highlight acute need for mental health staff

Friday 14th July 2017
NHS trust chairs and chief executives have stressed the urgent need for additional staff and funding in mental health. Image: monkeybusinessimages via iStock.
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There is an urgent need for additional staff and funding for mental health services across the NHS, according to a recent survey of trust chairs and chief executives.

NHS Providers, the trade association for NHS acute, ambulance, community and mental health services, released a report that acknowledged the "strong and welcome" government commitment to address inequalities in care for people with mental health needs.

However, it also reflected concerns from trust leaders that core mental health services are deteriorating.

Seven out of ten respondents (70 per cent) predicted an increase in patient demand this year, which raises the risk of core services being overwhelmed.

Less than a third of trust chairs and chief executives were confident they had enough staff to deliver existing services, let alone introduce new provisions. There is a particularly acute need for mental health nurses and psychiatrists.

The survey also highlighted the issue of funds intended for mental health at a national level not getting through to trusts delivering frontline services. Four out of five participants (80 per cent) raised this as a concern.

NHS Providers called for realistic thinking about how to meet rising demand for NHS mental health services, a trend that can be partly attributed to rising awareness of these health issues and societal pressures.

It also stressed the importance of systems to ensure frontline services feel the benefit of increased mental health funding.

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at the trade association, said: "These concerns point to a growing gap between the government's welcome ambition for the care of people with mental health needs and the reality of services they are receiving on the front line."

She added: "Having the right staff, with the right skills in the right place is the only way to improve mental health services on the ground."

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, called for measures in the government's forthcoming workforce strategy to "make it as easy as possible for people to work in mental health".

Written by Angela Newbury

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