Mental health trusts facing significant challenges
09 December 2021
Responding to the health and social care committee's report on children and young people's mental health, and an expert panel's evaluation of the government's progress against its policy commitments in the area of mental health services in England, the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
"We welcome these two reports which highlight where progress is being made to improve mental health services and provide recommendations to address the significant challenges which remain.
"Mental health trusts are doing all they can to expand services and provide the best possible care as close to home as possible with the staff and resources available.
"However, demand is growing steeply, with a record number of people contacting the NHS to seek help for mental health issues over the past 18 months, many of which have either been triggered by the pandemic or worsened by it.
"Specifically, we continue to be worried about the severe strain children and young people's services are under. In our survey in May, all mental health trust leaders said demand for these services was outstripping supply. We know that too often, children and young people face unacceptable delays for treatment, and at times treatment is taking place a long way from home.
"Trust leaders are also concerned about staff, bed and service shortages. We must see a fully funded national workforce plan to ensure long term ambitions can be delivered, and while there has been welcome additional funding for mental health services for this year, more will be needed on a long-term basis, as well as urgent capital investment. Increased support for public health and social care will also be crucial.
"In particular, we welcome the recommendation that there must be more focus given to meeting national expectations. We need to see improved and transparent mechanisms that guarantee mental health funding reaches the frontline services that need it most. We also need to see greater understanding of the needs of local populations to ensure services are prioritised accordingly."