Locum Insights

"Even the best of reports quickly gather dust on shelves"

Reaction to the Mental Health Taskforce Strategy

Published on 17th February 2016

What does the mental health and psychological therapy sector think of the Mental Health Taskforce Stratgy?

We are concerned about the quality and choice of treatment on offer – UK Council for Psychotherapists

“The taskforce recommendation to increase the provision of talking therapies on the NHS is very much welcomed. The proposal that, by 2020/21, 600,000 more adults a year with anxiety and depression will get the care they need could make a huge difference to people’s lives.

However, we acknowledge there are important gaps in the report and recommendations which need to be addressed. What continues to concern us is that the NHS therapy currently on offer remains primarily focused on short-term therapy with limited focus on the best therapy for the client’s needs and patient choice. Also the difference between the number of patients referred for treatment and the number who move to recovery remains far too large.

That is why we are concerned about the quality and choice of treatment on offer and not just the quantity. We believe recovery rates could be improved by providing longer-term, individually-tailored therapy. Sadly, the report makes no mention of this.

We do, however, welcome the recommendation that the NHS should provide the full range of NICE approved therapies as we know that providing choice has a positive outcome for clients.

We will continue to review the detail of the report’s recommendations over the coming weeks, along with keeping a close eye on the response from Government and the NHS.”

Statement from the UK Council for Psychotherapists


The strategy is a major step towards ending the separation between head and body – Royal College of Psychiatrists

“The Royal College of Psychiatrists welcomes the publication of ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’, the new national strategy for mental health to 2020, and the announcement that more than £1bn a year of additional funding will be invested in mental health care. As part of the Mental Health Taskforce, the College has played a pivotal role in the development of this strategy.

“The commitments in the Mental Health Strategy are a major step towards ending the separation of head and body. The increased resources to improve the psychological care of those with physical illness and the physical health of those with mental disorders is to be strongly welcomed and is what the College has been calling for, for years. It will take sustained work to bring mental health onto an equal footing to physical health, ending decades of inequality.

“Likewise the commitments to ending out of area acute inpatient care and the provision of full coverage across England for perinatal services and A&E psychiatry services are things that the College has also called for.

“The College also welcomes the guarantee of funding to enable 600,000 more people access psychological therapies. This, combined with the promised expenditure to double the reach of Individual Placement and Support for people with severe mental illness, could support 29,000 people to find and stay in work by 2020.

“Strategies don’t deliver themselves though, people do. As doctors who specialise in mental health, psychiatrists in England are already playing a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with serious mental health conditions. These frontline mental health professionals also deserve the support the strategy promises.

“We welcome the focus on improving the vital underpinnings needed for delivering improved mental health services, which are often invisible or simply taken for granted: better mental health data and payment systems, more investment in research, and a well-supported workforce able to provide high-quality, accessible care. The Royal College of Psychiatrists will play its part in making these objectives a reality. Above all however, to bring about fundamental and lasting change, patients and carers, and all involved in the delivery of mental health care, need positive, active and sustained engagement with this strategy, and the recommendations in the recent Commission for acute psychiatric care for adults report, for months and years to come.”

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists


The next few years will be extremely tough for CAMHS services - YoungMinds

“YoungMinds welcomes the Taskforce report, which provides a compelling case for investing in the future of mental health for both adults and children.

“It’s great to see the report building on the ambition set out in the 2015 Future In Mind report, and on previous announcements by the Prime Minister around age-appropriate wards for young people, stopping the use of police cells for crisis care, and new access standards for eating disorders and psychosis.

“We’re especially encouraged by the emphasis on closer collaboration between mental health, education and children’s services, which is something that is urgently required.

“But the reality is that the next few years will be extremely tough for CAMHS services, which have been seriously underfunded for decades.

“It is crucial that the extra investment the government has recently announced is used to transform mental health services for children, and not to plug existing gaps. Otherwise too many young people and parents will continue to struggle to get the support they so urgently need.”

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds


Real equality will take more than five years to achieve – Centre for Mental Health

“Some of the biggest changes called for in the report are behind the scenes, to the way mental health care is paid for, how staff are trained and how services are held to account for achieving improvements. It is crucial that we get these things right to create a level playing field for the first time for mental health in the NHS.

“It is now vital that the taskforce report is implemented effectively. This means investing in good quality support for local organisations to make changes in equal partnerships with the people they aim to serve. It means ensuring funds are spent on the improvements they are designed to bring about, with transparent reporting of spending nationally and locally. And it requires commitment from every part of the NHS, not just mental health services, to bring about change.

“We know that the NHS faces an unprecedented financial challenge in the next five years. Local councils face even bigger pressures, putting public health and social care under threat despite their important roles in promoting and protecting mental health. But the changes the Taskforce is calling for could help public services improve the help they offer and make more equitable and effective use of scarce resources.

“The Taskforce report lays bare the inequality at the heart of the NHS. Too many people with mental health problems get too little help too late. Many get nothing at all. Today’s report makes clear that this is unacceptable and must change. Real equality will take more than five years to achieve and will require sustained local and national effort. But if we ignore the challenge we will miss an opportunity to create a fairer and healthier society for all.”

Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sean Duggan


Even the best of reports quickly gather dust on shelves – Rethink

“This report has been a long, long time coming and marks a hugely significant moment in the potential transformation of care for people with mental illness.

With our partners Mind, we gathered evidence from over 20,000 people into the Taskforce and all they asked for, time and again, was the same level of quality treatment that would be there for a serious physical illness.

This is now the chance to make a reality of that hope. But even the best of reports quickly gather dust on shelves; transforming services so that they support people in the way they should is a very complex task, particularly given the long history of chronic underfunding.

The Taskforce is independent, and these are only recommendations, although it is deeply heartening to see such a positive response from both the Government and NHS England, who have accepted the recommendations in full.  So the important thing now is for all the players in the system to find a way to deliver these recommendations so that we see real change on the ground. That requires a clear plan to measure, report and deliver on the plan. This is an opportunity that must not be lost.”

Brian Dow, Director of External Affairs at Rethink Mental Illness




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