• NHS chief executive indicates there will be an increase in NHS owned inpatient mental health services
  • Mr Stevens said there was an “inappropriate” public/private mix in some areas
  • Wants “more public mental health provision for a far wider range of patient services”

Simon Stevens has indicated that a “sometimes-inappropriate” level of private provision in mental health inpatient services should be squeezed “as NHS mental health services expand”.

The NHS England chief executive was talking about problems in inpatient mental health and learning disabilities at a Royal College of Psychiatrists event today, as he launched an independent review and “taskforce” to try to improve the services.

Many of them are currently provided by the independent sector, and some private providers’ facilities have - along with some run by NHS trusts - been subject to serious care quality concerns in recent months and years.

Mr Stevens said: “Where it exists we’ve got to look at the unacceptable physical fabric across the NHS.

“During the years of private finance initiatives mental health often missed out, with the gap filled with the independent psychiatric sector. We’ve inadvertently ended up with a sometimes-inappropriate mixed economy of provision for mental health inpatients.

“As NHS mental health services expand, we should expect to see more public mental health provision for a far wider range of patient services.”

According to a report this year by analysts LaingBuisson, the independent sector in NHS commissioned mental health services was expecting 5.2 per cent growth by 2023. A primary driver for the growth since 2011, according to the report, was a temporary ban on the commissioning of new in-house NHS services, a continuing reduction of NHS in-house capacity, and a lack of appetite by NHS trusts to invest in specialised mental health services.

His comments come amid calls for major new capital investment in NHS mental health services, following government announcements of substantial investment in acute facilities. NHSE, among others, is lobbying for further commitments to increased capital spending.

Some NHS inpatient facilities are in urgent need of upgrade. Earlier this year, HSJ revealed hundreds of dormitory style wards were still in use across NHS mental health trusts. The Care Quality Commission has said trusts will need to set a deadline for eliminating these wards.

In his speech at the NHS Provider’s annual conference this week, Mr Stevens said NHS England was working on a solution to address the dormitory ward issue.


HSJ Transforming Mental Health Summit

The HSJ Transforming Mental Health Summit, taking place at the Hilton Leeds from 28-29 November 2019, unites 120+ senior figures from across the NHS, local authority and wider mental health service delivery landscape to discuss how to realise the visions of the NHS long-term plan and ensure successful local implementation of national priorities.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, attendees will quiz Paul Farmer and other national figures on general policy direction and co-develop solutions to their local challenges with NHS and local government colleagues from across the country. The summit is free to attend for senior NHS and public sector figures.

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