The government published the NHS Long Term Plan on 7 January 2019.
The BPC has welcomed the publication of the plan and its specific commitment to improve mental health provisions by increasing funding by £2.3 billion a year by 2023/24 to:
- fund new and integrated models of primary and community mental health care to give 370,000 adults and older adults with severe mental illnesses greater choice and control over their care and support them to live well in their communities by 2023/24,
- provide access to an additional 380,000 people per year to access NICE-approved IAPT services,
- create a new approach to support children into adulthood recognising that young adult mental health services for people aged 18-25 need a consistent approach,
- improve access to and the quality of perinatal mental health care for mothers, their partners and children, areas that have been underfunded so far,
- improve crisis and post-crisis services.
The BPC recognises that the plan’s pledges to improve mental health services for both children and adults represent a very important step forward towards parity of esteem between mental and physical health, a legal requirement set out in the Health and Social Care Act (2012). Recognising that adults need greater choice and control over their care and that there is the necessity to collectively enshrine the right of service users to be fully involved in decisions affecting their care is something that the BPC has supported and continues to advocate. Only 15% of people with mental health problems successfully receive any professional support each year through the NHS and this is partly due to the lack of treatment choice and the lack of available services. The plan acknowledges that significant investment is needed to address these issues.
However we remain concerned about the lack of details and specifically about how increased choice of treatments and care will be delivered.
We also remain uncertain about how the increased mental health provisions will be delivered through the existing and already overworked NHS workforce and urge that the government’s NHS workforce plan due later this year proposes clear plans to engage with highly trained psychotherapists currently not utilised by the NHS.
The BPC believes that the NHS long term plan is a significant step towards improving mental health provisions but more needs to be done to offer a comprehensive mental health strategy that addresses the different needs of each individual. We look forward to engage in the process of ensuring that people can access the care and support they need at the time they need it and will continue the dialogue about the important role that psychoanalytic psychotherapy plays in such comprehensive strategy.