Mental health charities respond to NHS long term plan for England

NHS England has published the long term plan which sets out its strategy for the next decade, as well as detailing how it will spend the Government’s pledged additional investment for the next five years. The plan follows the June 2018 announcement made by Prime Minister Theresa May of an extra £20bn for the health service, and focusses on ten key areas including prevention, access and recovery.

Welcoming the long term plan, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said: “We are really pleased to see that mental health is such a key focus in the NHS long term plan and we welcome the £2.3bn set aside for mental health services. This is the kind of sustained investment we need to see to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health and, if delivered, this plan will make a difference to the lives of thousands of people with mental health problems.

“Everyone now needs to work together to develop the workforce needed and to deliver these plans and to ensure the money reaches the frontline. Local decision makers need to develop their own plans and the proof of delivery will be in the experiences of people trying to access the services they need.”

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “We are delighted that the Prime Minister and the Chief Executive of the NHS are prioritising mental health in the Long Term Plan.  Rethink Mental Illness and numerous other organisations have been campaigning for many years to ensure there is parity between mental and physical health. For all those people who are severely affected by mental illness we now have the prospect of getting access to good quality treatment, quickly, near home for the first time.”

The Mental Health Policy Group has also responded to the NHS long term plan, stating: “If delivered in full, the proposals should help children and young people stand a better chance of receiving the best start in life, help prevent mental health problems from developing later in childhood, and deliver far less fragmented mental health care.

“We’re also pleased to see a focus on improving services for people living with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder by increasing access to mental health services in the community, as well as a continuing commitment to improve crisis care so that more people can access care and support where and when they need it. None of this is possible without us expanding the mental health workforce, including that of the voluntary and community sector.

“However, we should not under-estimate the scale of the challenge in ensuring that the money ear-marked for mental health reaches the frontline and that national policy is translated in local action. And, of course, in order to truly transform the experience of people with mental health problems, we need a cross-government approach so that problems people face in accessing support from other public services including public health, social care, housing and the benefits system are effectively tackled through the spending review in 2019.”