A new national strategy for mental health will be ‘clear, tangible and costed’, according to the chair of NHS England’s taskforce for the sector.

  • Mind chief executive is leading NHS England mental health taskforce
  • Paul Farmer says strategy will be “route map” for the sector to 2020
  • Report is expected to focus on implementing parity of esteem

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, has told HSJ the plan will be a “route map” for the sector to 2020.

Mr Farmer is leading the taskforce to create the strategy. It is expected to be published later this year.

He said it was important the taskforce produced a report with “deliverable recommendations” after numerous high level strategy reports in recent years.

Mr Farmer said: “Over the last four or five years we have seen quite a few national strategies for mental health but what has been missing is a really clear route map which takes us from those ambitions into delivering real change for people with mental health problems on the ground.

Paul Farmer

The route map needs to be ‘tangible and clear’, Paul Farmer said

“It has got to be tangible and it’s got to have some really clear statements of where we would like services to be by 2020.”

NHS England set up the taskforce in March. It involves charities, royal colleges and national bodies including Monitor, Health Education England, Public Health England, as well as Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust which is part of a new care model “vanguard” project.

The taskforce is expected to make recommendations on implementing of the government’s parity of esteem policy, including a focus on data requirements and an assessment of priorities, costs and benefits.

Mr Farmer said: “Our job is to make sure we come up with a series of recommendations that are clear, tangible, deliverable and costed.”

He said the taskforce would draw on the experiences and opinions of people with mental health problems, charities and voluntary bodies.

“We have been asked to look at not just the narrow nature of the commissioning of secondary mental health services, but also where there is interface around mental health in primary care, the acute system and community services,” he added.

The taskforce will consider areas including services for young people and children; improving access to talking therapies for people with mild to moderate mental health problems; and crisis care and inpatient adult care. It will also look at the role of different sectors, such as primary care, in delivering better outcomes for mental health patients.

Mr Farmer also said the report could be a valuable part of the NHS contribution to the new government’s spending review, which could begin this summer.

More information

  • The taskforce has also launched a survey to gather views from NHS leaders to inform its work. Fill it out here