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Mental health plan will see 21,000 new posts created

PUBLISHED: 06:00 31 July 2017

Norman Lamb Picture: TEN Group

Norman Lamb Picture: TEN Group

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Mental health care in the UK has been given a massive boost thanks to a £1.3 billion NHS expansion drive that will see thousands of new posts created.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Making the announcement, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the aim was to treat an extra one million people by 2021 under one of the biggest expansion plans to mental health care in Europe.

However, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said while the expansion was needed, the announcement should be welcomed with caution. He said the funds were not additional and would have to come from existing “strained” NHS resources.

He said: “I don’t see how government is going to resource this expansion to mental health on current resources.”

Mr Hunt said the new plan will see services being provided seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and properly integrate mental and physical health services for the first time. It will also result in the number of trained nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, peer support workers and other mental health professionals being increased, with 21,000 new posts.

“As we embark on one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe it is crucial we have the right people in post - that’s why we’re supporting those already in the profession to stay and giving incentives to those considering a career in mental health,” he said.

The move will see 2,000 additional nurses, consultants and therapist posts created in child and adolescent mental health services, an additional 2,900 therapists in adult talking services and 4,800 extra nurses and therapists in crisis care settings. A plan to retain staff and encourage some of the 4,000 psychiatrists and 30,000 trained mental health nurses to the profession will also form part of the drive.

A spokesperson for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services said they welcomed the plan, but were “deeply sceptical” about it. They said: “Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT) has hundreds of vacancies and has done so for many years.

“In the first three months of this financial year, NSFT has spent more than £4m on temporary staff. If money promised for mental health never materialises on the frontline and NSFT cannot currently recruit and retain psychiatrists, mental health nurses, psychologists and support workers now, what difference will this announcement make?”

EDP Campaign

The EDP has been running its Mental Health Watch campaign since October 2015.

Its aims are to reduce the stigma around mental health issues, raise awareness, as well as campaign for improved services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

So far our Mental Health Watch campaign has highlighted the struggles of the region’s mental health service, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT), as well as its progress and successfully campaigned to save a mental health helpline from closure.

A key hope of our manifesto was for underfunded mental health services to be given more money, to end the stigma of people suffering from mental health problems and to raise awareness. By giving mental health extensive coverage the paper has gone some way to achieving that.

Watch out for information about an EDP special mental health edition which is coming soon.

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