The latest dire revelations of the state of mental health services provided by Greater Manchester mental health trust, which has been declared ‘inadequate’ by the CQC, need to be seen in the context of rising staff shortages, underfunding and government neglect.
So bad has the situation become that the chief executive of the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health network, Sean Duggan, has raised the alarm with a recent HSJ article headed ‘Mental health is now barely acknowledged by this government’.
Duggan contrasts the promise in Boris Johnson’s 2019 Conservative Manifesto that mental health would be treated with the same urgency as physical health with the miserable performance of ministers since then.
He notes the recent government Mandate to NHS England makes only a few vague passing mentions of mental health, while the lack of capacity is starkly exposed. He notes 1.2 million people are currently waiting for mental health support, “and, despite the best efforts of hard-pressed staff, recent data suggests one in five people attending accident and emergency needing mental healthcare, spend more than 12 hours there.”
He points to the dire lack of capital investment, with only one mental health provider included in the government’s flagship 40 new hospitals, while “Our members tell us time and again that many parts of the mental health estate are not fit for purpose.”
In the autumn of 2021 the Royal College of Psychiatrists set out a clear case for rapid investment of £3bn in capital projects and £1bn in revenue to drive forward improvements – but no such funding has been forthcoming as NHS England faces the need for £12bn in “savings” by 2025.
Full story in The Lowdown, 4 August 2023