NHS Providers response to Mental health clinically-led review of standards: models of care and measurement consultation
We welcome the opportunity to respond to NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Mental health clinically-led review of standards: models of care and measurement consultation. Our response is based on feedback from our members on the proposed new standards for mental health services specifically, as well as our broader engagement with trusts on the wider programme of work underway to amend and evolve access standards used within the NHS.
- We support the proposals to develop new standards covering a broader range of mental health services. We know from all the clinical evidence available how important timely access to services is both to prevent mental ill health and avoid where possible conditions worsening.
- The introduction of these standards is also an important step towards parity of esteem by providing more information about the demand for, and access to, mental health services and a potential means to support more effective models of care delivery.
- Meeting these new standards, at thresholds we expect for those seeking NHS services for physical health conditions, will require additional funding beyond current commitments, including money for buildings and equipment, and a significant strengthening of the workforce fundamentally.
- It will be important to ensure the standards are accompanied by clear guidance, as well as investment, to ensure services for assessment are not prioritised at the expense of services for care and treatment, or services that remain without an access standard attached to them but need to be a focus and priority for trusts given their local contexts.
- There are also significant, systemic challenges to consistently providing the right level and nature of mental health support in a timely way that need to be tackled. How mental health services and their partners in the wider system are resourced, commissioned and funded needs to be addressed to improve access and the quality of care for individuals across the country fundamentally.
- Implementation planning must be realistic and honest about what resource and time is needed to introduce these standards successfully, taking full account of the current operationally challenged context and ongoing and anticipated long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NHS.