NHS Long Term Plan
The NHS Long Term Plan was published in January this year and saw services for people severely affected by mental illness prioritised for the first time. This is fantastic news following our campaigning in 2018, where we highlighted the length of time people were waiting for treatment in our report Right treatment, right time.
Overall there’s a strong reaffirmation to achieving parity of esteem between mental and physical health and a clear focus, for the first time, on severe mental illness. Proportionately more money has now been set aside for radically improving mental health services, including children’s, perinatal and crisis services.
In particular we were delighted that there are aims to give 370,000 people severely affected by mental illness more choice and control over their care by transforming community services and increase their access to mental health therapies, physical health and practical support. Directly linked to Rethink Mental Illness’ calls, we’re pleased to see a commitment to trial a four-week waiting time standard to community mental health teams.
The NHS Long Term Plan aims to:
- Give the 370,000 people severely affected by mental illness in England more choice and control over their care by transforming community services and trialling a four-week waiting time standard
- Provide 24-hour mental health crisis support in the community and improved access to ‘safe havens’ in the community
- End by 2021 the placement of people outside their local area when they need to be admitted to hospital for care
- We will now work closely with NHS England, the Government and local commissioners to ensure new and revised community services consider the needs of people severely affected by mental illness and provide mental health care fit for the 21st century.
This plan goes a long way to address the needs of people with complex mental health problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - something we have long campaigned for. Like all plans, it’s about what action comes next that really matters.
Our next steps are to work with NHS England and local mental health trusts and commissioners to co-produce new models of community services. They will then be piloted in certain areas around England over the next two years and evaluated, alongside plans to expand the community workforce. Lessons about what works will be pulled together and rolled out across England.
What will be fundamental to these new models will be ensuring wider support for people outside of NHS care is provided, including employment and housing support, access to community initiatives and physical health care.
Rethink Mental Illness will also be convening organisations outside of the mental health world, such as employers and voluntary organisations to identify partnerships and encourage others to lead the way in their areas to radically improve holistic care for people severely affected by mental illness.