Hospital Dr News

Mental health: rising demand and staff shortages mean services are overwhelmed

Rapidly rising demand, workforce shortages and the failure of funding to get through to the frontline means core NHS mental health services are being overwhelmed.

This is the conclusion of an NHS Providers’ report, The State of the NHS Provider Sectorwhich surveyed nearly two thirds of trusts that provide mental health services.

The report acknowledges the strong and welcome commitment from the top of government to address long-standing inequalities in care for people with mental health needs.

This is starting to enable better service provision in the targeted areas. However trust leaders say the position of core mental health services is deteriorating.

More than 70% expect demand to increase this year – with leaders saying this is overwhelming core mental health services and outstripping their capacity to provide effective care to service users.

Just one in 10 say their local trust is managing demand and planning for unmet need for key mental health services, including those for children and young people.

Fewer than one in three is confident they have enough staff to deliver existing services let alone extending or creating new services. In particular, trusts are struggling to recruit enough mental health nurses and psychiatrists.

The report calls for realism about rising demand and what is needed to meet it, recognising that increased focus on mental health and current societal pressures will generate more demand.

Director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: “These concerns point to a growing gap between the government’s welcome ambition for the care of people with mental health needs and the reality of services they are receiving on the front line.

“In some cases, core mental health service provision by mental health trusts is actually getting worse.

“Having the right staff, with the right skills in the right place is the only way to improve mental health services on the ground. But mental health trust leaders are struggling to find sufficient staff to deliver their current services, let alone find new staff to extend, transform or innovate services. And too often trust leaders report that any extra funding is just used to fill existing gaps or to manage current demand, not improve service quality or access.  Unless action is taken to address these areas of concern then the government’s ambitions for transforming mental health care will not be met.”

When it comes to all NHS services, fewer than two out of three chairs and chief executives (61%) were confident their trusts were able to provide high quality care – slightly down compared with the previous report.

A third expected trust finances to deteriorate over the next six months.

Helen Gilburt, Fellow in Health Policy at The King’s Fund, said: “This report yet again raises concerns around how good intentions on mental health are often not translating into better services on the ground. The NHS is under severe financial pressure, but sacrificing funding for mental health to relieve other parts of the system is at odds with the commitment to parity of esteem between mental and physical health.”

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation