Round-the-clock mental care at A&E in five years
AROUND-the-clock mental health care will be provided at all accident and emergency departments within the next five years.
PUBLISHED: Sun, Jul 19, 2015
The move signals another victory for the Sunday Express mental health crusade, which called on the Government to broaden the range and access to acute and crisis services for those in need.
In the NHS mandate between the Government and NHS England, which sets out the ambitions for the health service, it states that access to crisis services for an individual must be “at all times as accessible, responsive and as high quality as other health emergency services”.
This includes ensuring the provision of adequate liaison psychiatry services in emergency departments.
NHS England has adopted these aims in its business plan for the next two years. This year £30million will be spent on effective models of liaison psychiatry in a greater number of acute hospitals.
However, by 2020 it is expected that all acute trusts will have liaison mental health services in place for all ages “appropriate to the size, acuity and specialty of the hospital.”
Last night Alistair Burt, Minister for Community and Social Care, said: “We must treat a broken mind with the same urgency as a broken leg and we must treat mental health and physical health together.
“For too long, mental health services have not had the money they need or been given the priority they deserve.
“We’re putting this right. We have increased funding, we’re tackling stigma and we’re introducing treatment targets so everyone gets the care they need when they need it.
“We’ve also made sure that mental and physical health conditions are now given equal priority in law.”
A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “People in mental health crisis deserve to have the same care available to them 24 hours a day as those with a physical emergency.
“We have started to make strides towards this, investing £30million to improve services and setting up a mental health task force to establish a clear vision for the next five years.”
Mental illness is the single largest cause of disability in the UK and each year about one in four people suffer from a mental health problem.
The cost to the economy is thought to be £100billion a year.
Physical and mental health are closely linked and people with severe, prolonged mental illness die 15-20 years earlier than others.
However, only a quarter of those with mental health conditions are in treatment and only 13 per cent of the NHS budget goes on such treatments when mental illness accounts for almost a quarter of the total burden of disease.
Next year, for the first time, there will be waiting standards for those with mental health problems.
NHS England is committed to achieving parity between levels of physical and mental health services by 2020, including within accident and emergency departments.