Mental Health Taskforce
What is the Mental Health Taskforce?
The independent Taskforce was set up in March 2015 by NHS England, the body responsible for the delivery of the NHS on behalf of Government. The Taskforce was asked to develop a five year strategy for mental health in England. It was chaired by Paul Farmer, Mind CEO and the vice-chair was Jacqui Dyer, an expert by experience. The Taskforce comprised health and social care leaders, professional bodies, charities and experts by experience.
How was Rethink Mental Illness involved in the Taskforce?
Rethink Mental Illness CEO Mark Winstanley was a member of the Taskforce. Two of our senior staff members were also seconded to NHS England to support the development of the strategy.
Rethink Mental Illness, together with Mind, supported over 20,000 people to engage with the taskforce through a national survey and regional workshop events. It's fantastic that so many people made their voices heard, and their views have helped to shape the recommendations. Separately, Rethink Mental Illness also submitted evidence to the Taskforce, drawn from our supporters’ experiences.
What does the Taskforce say?
We are pleased that the Taskforce report reflects so many of the issues we know are important to our supporters and which we highlighted in our submission. The recommendations span the NHS and other relevant cross-government departments, such as the Ministry of Justice and Department of Work and Pensions. To implement these, the Taskforce estimates an additional £1billion per year is needed by 2020/21, which the NHS has committed to invest.
Key recommendations include:
- Secure care: better approaches to commissioning so that people do not stay longer than necessary in secure or other restrictive settings.
- Access to high-quality services close to home: ensuring that local community services are immediately available so that people experiencing a mental health crisis do not need to wait. If people need to use hospital services, they should not have to travel out of their area for the right care.
- Co-production: people living with mental illness and carers should be involved in the design and delivery of mental health services.
- Prescribing: new standards for health professionals who prescribe medication to improve the way they involve people in decisions about their treatment.
- Better carer engagement: health professionals should be trained to better involve carers. Services should also have to show evidence that that they effectively engage with carers as part of their inspections.
- Action on physical health: people with mental illness should get enhanced help with their physical health through better screening and lifestyle support.
- Research: calls for a 10 year strategy on mental health research, including details of the funding commitments to make this happen.
What happens next?
The Taskforce’s report is only the first step towards an improved mental health system and there is still a lot of work to do to make sure that the recommendations become a reality. The Taskforce is independent, but we are pleased to see that both the NHS and Government ministers have accepted the recommendations. We look forward to more detail around the next steps for implementing the strategy. However, we know this report has been eagerly anticipated across the health and social care system and many organisations’ plans for 2016/17 and beyond will be informed by the recommendations.
Our supporters were crucial to shaping the Taskforce recommendations and Rethink Mental Illness is committed to keeping the pressure up over the coming months to make sure these much-needed changes are both properly funded and implemented. We promise to:
- Campaign to ensure the recommendations from the Taskforce are properly funded and implemented.
- Use our expertise in working with health professionals and experts by experience to evolve our own services and practices to ensure we play our part in delivering key Taskforce recommendations
- Support collaboration between commissioners, service providers, professional bodies, people using services and their carers to deliver the wider changes recommended
Find out more about the taskforce report by following the hashtag #futurenhs on Twitter or follow our campaigns twitter account.