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NHS Long Term Plan shows promise on mental health and acknowledges workforce challenge

07 January 2019

Published today, the NHS Long Term Plan outlines the health service’s ambitions for widespread improvements over the next ten years, but reaching parity of esteem will be an immense challenge.

After a year of consultation, the NHS has announced how it plans to spend the £20.5 billion promised by NHS England. The British Psychological Society has welcomed the focus on mental health in the Long-Term plan, this includes:

  • Better access for new parents – including fathers for the first time- who need mental health support during the period before and after the birth of their child
  • New waiting time targets
  • Extra funding for new mental health crisis services of up to £250 million a year by 2023/24 
  • £2.3bn to improve access to talking therapies for 350,000 children and young people and 380,000 adults 
  • Incentives for encouraging people to join or re-join the mental health workforce
  • A commitment to improve the transition between young people and adult services

Welcoming the publication the British Psychological Society Chief Executive Sarb Bajwa said:

“In aiming for parity between physical and mental health services these plans demonstrate a clear commitment to mental health through increased spending and introducing access standards. There is still a long way to go but the announcements made today show that the NHS has been listening and these plans could be transformative if they are delivered effectively, with the right workforce in place.

“Psychologists are a key part of delivering this plan. We know that immediate action is needed for children and young people’s services as they have become woefully underfunded and overstretched.  It is unacceptable that tens of thousands of children who need care cannot access it.  This is due to chronic staff shortages and inadequate workforce planning.  Young people are left to fend for themselves, which can lead to a mental health issue developing into serious mental health condition. Prevention and early intervention are key to reducing the numbers of people developing mental health conditions and reducing the demand on already overstretched services and making this plan a success. 

“We want world-class mental health care for all. This means improving access to high-quality care for our all mental health needs, increasing the size and skills of the workforce, integrating services, improving outcomes and involving patients. Much of this work is also done by professionals outside of the NHS, in the community or in adult social care or children’s services, so it is vital that these services are protected and resourced effectively.”

In June 2018, the Government asked the NHS to produce a long term plan to improve access, care and outcomes for patients in return for a five year funding settlement of £20.5 billion by 2023/24. Since then, the NHS has engaged with clinical experts, patient representatives and relevant stakeholders to develop the policy proposals published today. You can read the BPS consultation response here.  



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