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Transforming Mental Healthcare in England

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Flagged as the largest transformation of mental healthcare in a generation, pledging to help more than a million extra people, and identifying the need to invest an additional billion pounds in mental healthcare services by 2020/2021, NHS England cannot be accused of underselling the recently published Mental Health Taskforce report chaired by Mind Chief Executive, Paul Farmer, commissioned as part of the Five Year Forward View.

Mental health accounts for 23 per cent of NHSE activity, but spending on secondary mental health services is equivalent to half of that. The report estimates that poor mental health carries an economic and social cost of £105 billion a year in England. Analysis commissioned by NHS England found that the national cost of dedicated mental health support and services across government departments in England, totals £34 billion a year, excluding dementia and substance abuse.

With 58 recommendations ranging from NHSE working with the Royal College of GPs and Health Education England to ensure that by 2020 all GPs receive core mental health training, to the regulation of psychological therapy services which are not currently inspected, as a statement of intent, the report is exemplary. In terms of real impact on the system however, it should be read in tandem with last year’s Spending Review . It is arguably the latter which will have a greater impact on the nation’s mental health, as the funding for the report’s recommendations will have to come from the £8 billion the government promised NHSE in the course of the current parliament

Much of that £8 billion will be raised using money diverted from elsewhere in the health system, particularly public health, education, and training. These are key components in any mental illness prevention strategy. A significant portion of the £8billion has already been earmarked for the short-term stabilisation of the system, notably acute trust deficits. It remains to be seen how much will be left in the kitty for spending on the transformation of mental healthcare services, in this, or any other generation.

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