HSJ’s must read stories and analysis from Monday

Bold ambition for mental health

The mental health workforce strategy has finally been published – seven months later than planned.

It sets a bold ambition to create 21,000 new posts across the sector by 2020-21, more than double prime minister Theresa May’s pledge of 10,000 new staff.

But it also admits there are a number of challenges and that the new posts will not eliminate the 20,000 existing vacancies in the sector.

The figures are 19,000 and 17,000 – the predicted net increase in headcount and total number of expected vacancies by 2020-21 respectively.

These have been arrived at through a series of complex calculations which have worked out by the end of the strategy period there will be 11,000 more clinical staff, 8,000 additional non-clinical support and admin staff, and 3,000 fewer vacancies.

In the mixing bowl to reach this magic number are the new posts, the existing vacancies, plans to retain 6,000 of the 21,000 clinical staff expected to leave the sector during this period, the creation of 5,000 new roles and the forecast transfer of 5,000 roles from low demand to high demand services.

There are a lot of estimates and assumptions in these calculations and the strategy even admits that if one area performs badly another will have to perform better to make up for it.

This makes implementing the plan a moveable feast, which the centre has made the responsibility of sustainability and transformation plans, with each STP having to draw up mental health workforce plans, which will include creating the new posts and appointing a senior leader to deliver them.