NHS England five year vision must support genuine parity between mental and physical health, says Centre

23 October 2014

“The NHS of the future must adapt to place mental health on a genuinely equal footing, with fairer funding, speedier access to care and integrated support for all of a person’s health needs,” Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan said today.

Responding to NHS England’s five year forward view, published today, Sean Duggan said: “The paper sets out some bold new ideas about how health services can adapt to meet new challenges and offer a better service for people’s mental as well as physical health. Its proposal to enable new forms of integrated care is a welcome recognition that for too long the NHS has been organised around episodic, hospital-based care while most of what people need is ongoing support for a range of mental and physical health conditions.

“The paper restates the importance of achieving parity between mental and physical health and the plan to extend access standards to a wider range of mental health services. Combined with changes to the way services are paid for and fairer entitlements to effective care and support, this should help to rebalance the NHS and end the scandal of unmet need among people with mental health problems.

“The five year forward view makes little mention of children’s mental health despite clear evidence about the importance of early intervention and of the cuts taking place to child and adolescent mental health services across the country. From pregnancy to adolescence, the mental health of children and young people must be a priority for the NHS everywhere, working in tandem with local councils and schools and young people themselves to offer better, more engaging support.

“The five year forward view sets out the scale of the financial challenge facing the NHS. By investing in effective mental health interventions we can make much better use of scarce funding. The NHS spends £14 billion on untreated mental health problems among people with physical health conditions and among its own staff. Targeted reinvestment can help to cut that cost while enhancing people’s health and reducing inequalities. The NHS can no longer afford to overlook mental health.”

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