• New targets for emergency mental health care to be by introduced by 2020
  • NHS England sets ambitions to introduce new targets for community mental health and children and young people’s mental health services
  • 4,000 additional mental health and learning disability nursing trainees to be in place by 2023-24
  • NHS England commits to reducing number of people with learning disabilities and autism being treated in inpatient units

A suite of new mental health access targets is set out by the NHS long term plan.

The plan says specific waiting time targets for emergency mental health services will be introduced from 2020. There will also be a new national waiting time for children and young people’s services and access standards for community mental health. 

NHS England did not specify what the new targets would be, however trials for a four week waiting time standard for children and young peoples services and access to adult community mental health teams will take place. 

The 10-year plan also commits the NHS to having 4,000 more people training in mental health and learning disability nursing by 2023/24. No target figures were included in the plan for trainee psychiatrists. 

NHS England said 70 per cent of liaison mental health teams would have to achieve the 24/7 “core standard” by 2023-24. It also said the NHS would add mental health nurses to ambulance control rooms and introduce new mental health transport vehicles.  

NHS England said areas “will be supported to redesign and reorganise” core community mental health teams aligned with primary care networks. The national commissioner outlines a focus on treating more people with severe mental health illness within new integrated care models by 2023-24.

This weekend HSJ reported on plans announced by Theresa May for the NHS, which included a commitment to grow funding for mental health services by £2.3bn by 2023-24. 

NHS England has also said capital from the upcoming spending review will be required to upgrade mental health inpatient units but did not specific how much would be needed. 

The long-term plan also confirmed a commitment to grow investment in children and young people’s mental health service faster than overall NHS funding and total mental health spending. However, it is not clear what baseline this will be set on.

The national commissioner has also continued commitments made in the forward view for mental health, including the requirement to end out of area placements by 2021 and a 95 per cent access target for eating disorder services.

HSJ’s Mental Health Summit takes place on 24-25 January - sign up here to take part.

Learning disabilities and Autism

Among commitments to improve learning disability and autism services NHS England has pledged to reduce inpatient provision to half the levels of 2015, which according to a government report was 3000, by 2023-24. It also said for every one million adults there will be no more than 30 people with a learning disability and or recieving autism care in an inpatient unit within same time frame.

It has also promised to introduce new learning disability improvement standards, with the requirement for the NHS to meet these standards by 2023-24. By this time the national patient record will include a “digital flag” for patients with a learning disability or autism.

All children and young people with a learning disability or autism will have a “designated key worker” within the next five years.

The national commissioner also said specialist mental health providers would have the option to take control of budgets.