NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announce that NHS in England is to invest a further £120million over the next two years on tackling and improving mental health services.
The investment and the new standards for mental health services have been announced today as part of a five-year ambition that will see new waiting times standards and early intervention services introduced, helping to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health services.
Simon Stevens, NHS England’s Chief Executive, said: “This is an important moment when we will bring parity of esteem for mental health services a step closer. Putting access and waiting standards in place across all mental health services, and delivering better integration of physical and mental health care by 2020, will bring us much closer towards that aim.”
Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health, said: “This programme will start the journey to transform mental health care in England. Today people who present in crisis often wait too long for an assessment and to access treatment. This new approach will help improve crisis care and help reduce the distress that untreated mental illness brings. With 75 per cent of long term mental health problems diagnosed before 18, investing in early effective treatments will pay immediate and long term dividends.”
Currently, most people who are referred for treatment for a physical health problem can expect to start their care within six weeks, with an absolute maximum wait of 18 weeks. The new plans mean mental health patients referred for talking therapies will be able to expect the same standards.
Similarly, people referred for urgent cancer treatment can expect to be seen within two weeks. The ambition is that people needing urgent care for first episode psychosis will be treated with the same urgency, no matter where they live.
Mental illness costs the country as much as £100 billion each year through lost working days, benefits and treating preventable illness but these plans are expected to make huge savings:
- improved access to talking therapies will help tackle the 70 million working days lost annually due to mental health problems;
- early treatment for people with psychosis could save the NHS £44million a year in reduced hospital admissions through people reaching crisis point;
- improved psychiatric liaison services in A&E departments could save each hospital an average of £5million a year by cutting down on admissions and length of stay.
The national standards will also help tackle the regional variation in very long waiting times for talking therapies as well as making sure that there is proper investment in making these services available to everyone who needs them within an acceptable time.
8 October 2014