Norman Lamb MP has welcomed the launch of a landmark report setting out a five-year strategy for transforming mental health care in England.
One in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime. However, this area has historically been neglected in the NHS, and people with mental illness often do not enjoy the same access to effective treatment as those with physical conditions.
The Mental Health Taskforce, chaired by Paul Farmer (Chief Executive of Mind), was set up to bring an end to this discrimination, and its report makes a wide range of recommendations on how to provide better support for people suffering from mental ill health.
The key recommendations are:
- 24 hour access to mental health crisis care, 7 days a week. This includes better funding for Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Teams, which offer intensive home treatment for people in a mental health crisis as an alternative to hospital admission.
- Comprehensive access and waiting time standards in mental health, giving people the right to treatment on a timely basis.
- Access to psychological therapies expanded to help over 600,000 more people.
- Better support for the physical health of people with severe mental health problems.
- More personalised and effective support to help twice as many people with mental illness to find / stay in work
- The practice of sending acutely ill patients long-distances for treatment should be eliminated as quickly as possible.
- Urgent action to help people from Black and Minority Ethnic communities to access good quality mental health care
Many of these recommendations build on the crucial work done by Norman Lamb and the Liberal Democrats in government and in opposition.
- The Liberal Democrats introduced the first ever maximum waiting times in mental health, for common mental health conditions (e.g. depression and anxiety) and psychosis. This was announced as part of a vision for comprehensive waiting time standards, to give more people with mental illness the right to access treatment on a timely basis.
- The ‘Future in Mind’ report was a blueprint for modernising children and young people’s mental health, backed by £1.25bn in funding secured by Nick Clegg. The Taskforce endorses the recommendations of the report, and calls for the funding to be invested in full over the next five years to help more than 70,000 children and young people.
- The Crisis Care Concordat was a historic agreement setting out how organisations can work together more effectively to provide better support for people experiencing a mental health crisis. The Taskforce recommends building on this work to improve access to crisis care.
- Norman Lamb has repeatedly called for an end to out of area mental health placements, and urged the Government to commit to eliminating the practice in a House of Commons debate last December. Nobody suffering from mental illness should be shunted across the country to receive the care they need.
The Mental Health Taskforce identified the need to invest an additional £1 billion a year by 2020, in order to deliver these rapid improvements in mental health services and help over 1 million more people with mental health problems to access high quality care.
The NHS has pledged to provide the extra £1bn – but rather than investing new money into mental health, the Government is instead redirecting funds from other parts of the NHS which are already overstretched.
Commenting on the report, Norman Lamb said:
“This report sets an excellent ambition to revolutionise our mental health services and bring an end to the discrimination suffered by those with mental ill health at the heart of the NHS.
“Critically, it endorses the plan to introduce comprehensive maximum waiting time standards in mental health. Mental health was left out of maximum waiting time standards when they were introduced by Labour over a decade ago. This drives where the money goes in the NHS and outrageously disadvantages those with mental ill health. The Liberal Democrats introduced the first ever waiting time standards in mental health – but until there are comprehensive rights to get treatment on time, discrimination against those with mental illness will continue.”