Revisions to the Health Bill have failed to address concerns that mental health will be under-represented in commissioning, a trust chief executive has warned.
Mental health charities and professionals have warned that GPs do not have sufficient knowledge of mental health services to commission them. While changes to the NHS reforms have included explicit moves to involve other groups, mental health professionals have not been promised a place on the boards of clinical commissioning groups.
Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust chief executive Maria Kane applauded the inclusion of nurses and hospital clinicians on commissioning group boards but urged the government not to ignore the opportunity that mental health representation would bring.
She said: “We are working increasingly closely with GPs but there is still a sizeable knowledge and skills gap that needs to be bridged and that can’t be ignored at the expense of patients.
“I appreciate consortium boards can’t be weighed down with too many experts but there has to be broad representation and that must include mental health.”
A survey by mental illness charity Rethink last year discovered that less than a third of GPs felt equipped to take on commissioning for mental health.
NHS Confederation Mental Health Network chair Steve Shrubb supported the comments, saying commissioning groups needed “the skills of mental health [professionals] or someone with an understanding of mental health”. He also said mental health professionals should form their own clinical networks to influence commissioning.