NHS England is giving greater priority and greater scrutiny to the mental health agenda. In its latest planning guidance, Forward View into action: planning for 2015-16, was the expectation that clinical commissioning croups’ (CCG) spending on mental health services in 2015/16 should increase in real terms, and grow by at least as much as each CCG’s allocation increase to support the ambition of parity between mental and physical health.
At both a national and regional level, work is being done to robustly assure this and ensure there is clear validity for commissioner justification of proposed spend.
NHS England’s Five Year Forward View set out a clear commitment to driving towards a more equal response across mental and physical health and achieving genuine parity of esteem by 2020.
A key element of achieving parity across mental and physical health care is in people having timely access to evidence-based and effective treatment.
In October 2014, NHS England and the Department jointly published “Improving access to mental health services by 2020”. This set out a clear vision to ensure mental and physical health services are given equal priority through:
- targeted investment to help people in crisis to get effective support; and
- the introduction of national waiting time standards to provide better access to mental health services over the next five years, subject to future resourcing decisions following the next Spending Review.
The first set of standards set the expectation that, from 1 April 2016:
- 50% of people experiencing a first episode of psychosis are treated with a NICE-approved package of care within two weeks of referral;
- 75% of adults referred to the national programme for talking therapies will be treated within six weeks, and 95% within 18 weeks; and
- £30 million investment targeted to support effective models of liaison psychiatry in a greater number of acute hospitals.
This is supported by an £80 million funding package for 2015/16 from NHS England’s budgets.
In addition, announcements in the autumn statement and spring budget have allocated additional funding to support transformative work to improve access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and perinatal mental health services. Part of this funding will be allocated to developing waiting times standards for CAMHS, initially for community based eating disorder services.
A Mental Health Task Force has been constituted to produce a costed five-year plan for the National Health Service to support improvement of mental health services, which is anticipated to report during summer 2015.
NHS England is committed to delivering parity of esteem between mental health and physical health, and recognises that spending is one of the areas which must be addressed. Good progress is already being made:
- Based on CCG and NHS England plans, there was a real terms increase in spending on mental health in 2014/15 compared to 2013/14;
- NHS England required CCGs to increase their spending on mental health by at least as much as the growth in their programme allocations; and
- In 2015/16, there are a range of new investments in mental health services, including:
o £250 million a year to improve services for expectant and new mothers, children and young people; o £80 million a year from NHS England’s budgets to improve early intervention in psychosis, liaison psychiatry and Talking Therapies services for common mental health conditions, and to deliver new access and waiting time standards; and o £30 million a year to improve community services for children and people with eating disorders.