The new document is aimed at everyone working in mental health and looks at ways staff can share responsibility and work more flexibly within teams.

Earlier this month, the Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) launched two new resources to help build a more flexible and skilled mental health workforce for the future.

Produced by the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) National Workforce Programme, Mental Health: new ways of working for everyone updates previous guidance that looked at new ways of working.for psychiatrists (2004 and 2005).

The new document is aimed at everyone working in mental health and looks at ways staff can share responsibility and work more flexibly within teams.

The new ways of working.programme is now looking at the whole of the mental health workforce, not just psychiatrists and is promoting a model where 'distributed responsibility' is shared among the team and no longer delegated by a single professional such as the consultant.

Building teams

The progress report suggests that in the future, staff with the most experience and skills should work face to face with people who have the most complex needs. These more experienced staff will then support other staff to take on less complex or more routine work.

This will enable qualified staff to extend the boundaries of what they do (for example, non medical prescribing) and there will be more chances for new roles such as support time and recovery workers, primary care mental health workers and assistant practitioners to take their places within teams.

The report acknowledges the challenge presented by distributed responsibility to individual team members who may have to share some responsibilities while others will have to raise their game to take their proper place in a more fully functioning team.

The report is published alongside Creating Capable Teams Approach, which provides practical guidance to help teams reflect on their current and future capabilities and skill mix and implement the recommendations of new ways of working.for everyone.

Work will now continue through 2007/8 to gather positive practice examples and to introduce a series of collaborative implementation learning sets to help take forward new ways of working.across the whole of mental health.

For more information on new ways of working, please contact Roslyn.hope@csip.org.uk. To download the reports, visit: www.newwaysofworking.org.uk