Mental health managers have demanded the Department of Health reveals how the mental health strategy would be implemented, amid warnings of growing “frustration” and government cuts hitting services.
The NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network last week wrote to the DH calling for a plan to be drawn up revealing how No Health Without Mental Health, published in February, would translate into improved support.
Network director Steve Shrubb told HSJ: “Everybody is absolutely signed up to the [DH] vision and the strategy. But there is real frustration that we don’t have an implementation strategy.”
He said such a plan would ensure “focused activity” in the NHS Commissioning Board: “If we don’t do that… then we run the risk of the strategy not being seen as a priority and being left to local implementation.”
DH director of mental health and disability Bruce Calderwood admitted the 2011-12 NHS operating framework, published in December, did not ensure the mental health strategy objectives would be put into place.
He said indicators relating to recovery in the operating framework were “not good enough”. The framework would be improved to “give us the levers by which the NHS Commissioning Board can be held to account [on mental health]”.
Meanwhile, there was a warning that “massive cuts” to the Supporting People housing support programme would reduce the scope to rehabilitate mental health service users in the community.
Supporting People, which began in 2003, helping vulnerable people to live independently and remain in social housing, saw its funding ringfence removed in 2009.
A survey by the National Housing Federation recently found 73 per cent of Supporting People providers expected large cuts to services, with some reductions reaching 50 per cent.
Centre for Mental Health deputy chief executive Andy Bell said: “For inpatients there’s a risk that discharge gets delayed, which means you spend longer in hospital than you need to, slows down rehabilitation and costs the health service a lot of money.
“For people in the community it creates the risk that they lose their home. That can have a devastating effect on their life and bring a future cost to the NHS.”