NHS Mandate says mental health is key

Mental health is to be given parity with physical health under the first NHS Mandate, which was published yesterday. 

The Mandate, says the Department of Health website, reaffirms the government’s commitment to an NHS that remains comprehensive universal – available to all, based on clinical need and not ability to pay – and is able to meet patients’ needs and expectations now and in the future.

The NHS Mandate is structured around five key areas where the government expects the NHS Commissioning Board to make improvements:

  • preventing people from dying prematurely
  • enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions
  • helping people to recover from episodes of ill health or following injury
  • ensuring that people have a positive experience of care
  • treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.

The Mandate also lists “putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health – this means everyone who needs mental health services having timely access to the best available treatment” among its eight key objectives.

Announcing the Mandate in the Commons yesterday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“Mental health, long the poor relation, must have parity with physical health. The mandate asks the board to make clear progress in rectifying that, particularly by looking at waiting times and rolling out the programme of improved access to psychological therapies.”

Chartered Psychologist and Chair of the Society's Professional Practice Board Dr David Murphy said:

"It would be important to highlight the commitment in the mandate to improve access to evidence-based psychological therapies for people all ages (currently older adults are significantly under represented in service use). We also welcome the commitment to support via the Commissioning Board the continuing extension of the IAPT programme to children and young people and those out of work. However, we remain concerned about that central mechanisms to support the implementation of the main IAPT programme and the extensions to people with Severe Mental Illness and Long Term Conditions may not be retained."