Reality Check: More mental health staff for the NHS?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said there will be 21,000 more nurses, therapists and consultants working in mental health services in England by 2021 | BBC News

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But the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has questioned whether there is enough money and how these posts are going to filled. BBC Reality Check looked at who’s likely to be right. We’re talking about England because the running of health services is devolved to the other nations.

The government has pledged to spend an extra £1bn already promised for mental health services in England on the new staff. This is not new money from the Treasury but comes from existing NHS budgets.

Experts from the Nuffield Trust, a think-tank specialising in health policy, say £1bn would be more than enough to fund 21,000 nurses. Although we don’t know how many of the new jobs will be for nurses and how many will be for consultants – and of course their salaries vary widely – it seems the plan is roughly affordable, albeit with money that has to be found from elsewhere in NHS budgets.

But that still leaves the question of whether staff can be recruited to fill the posts in such a short timeframe.

Read the full news story here

Male eating disorders rise

There has been an increase across the UK of men and boys suffering from eating disorders, according to research by BBC Panorama | BBC News

There has also been a rise in the number of under-18s seeking help. But less is spent on services to treat people of both genders with eating disorders in Wales than in England, a BBC Wales investigation found.

The UK’s largest eating disorder charity, Beat, said people with eating disorders “deserved better”. Panorama investigated the scale of the problem across the UK by asking every mental health trust and board how many men were referred to eating disorder services for a first assessment. From those that responded, it showed in 2016 there were 871 referrals, an increase from 2014 of 43%.

It also found a 42% rise in under-18s of both genders receiving help in 2016 compared to 2014, as well as a postcode lottery when it came to waiting times with lengths varying from less than a week to almost a year.

Read the full news story here

NHS bosses warn of mental health crisis with long waits for treatment

 Report finds 80% fear they cannot provide timely, high-quality care to the growing numbers seeking help | The Guardian

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Image source: The guardian

Mental health services are so overwhelmed by soaring demand that patients are facing long delays to access care, a powerful group of NHS mental health trust bosses have warned.

Widespread shortages of specialist nurses and psychiatrists mean Theresa May’s pledge to tackle the “burning injustice of mental illness” is at risk according to chief executives and chairs from 37 of England’s 53 specialist mental health trusts.

Their concerns are contained in a new report by NHS Providers, which represents almost all of England’s 240 NHS hospital, mental health and ambulance trusts. The report concludes that children, older people and people in a mental health crisis too often receive inadequate care for conditions such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders.

Read the full news story here

Children and young people’s mental health

The House of Commons Education and Health Committees have jointly published Children and young people’s mental health: the role of education.

The Committees found that financial pressures are restricting the provision of mental health services in schools and colleges.  It calls on the Government to commit sufficient resource to ensure effective services are established in all parts of the country.  It also calls for strong partnerships between the education sector and mental health services.

What can be done to tackle the youth mental health treatment gap?

Too few children and young people are getting the care they need. A new commission at Birmingham university aims to address the problem | The Guardian

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By 2020 one in three teenagers will have access to cancer treatment in England. Think about that: only one in three. There would be an outcry. It would be scandalous, horrifying, unacceptable.

It is not true, however. Unless you delete the word “cancer” and insert “mental health”, and then it is.

In medical terms, there is a treatment gap. The number of children and young people living with a diagnosable mental illness far exceeds the number who get any help. One in 10 children suffer a diagnosable mental illness, yet just one in four of them receive treatment. By 2020 the gap may close, a little, if plans in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health are realised, but only a little.

Read the full news story here

Library cuts harm young people’s mental health services

Professional body Cilip highlights work helping troubled youngsters and warns that reduced funding will shunt problems on to NHS and police | via The Guardian

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Public libraries’ significant role supporting the mental health of young people risks being undermined by swingeing budget cuts forced on local authorities, the head of their professional body warned this week. He added that, if funding is not protected, the work of libraries as frontline information resources for young people in need will be pushed on to the already overstretched police, health and social services.

It is estimated that one in 10 UK children experience mental health problems, as do one in four adults. Nick Poole, head of the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals (Cilip),  told the Guardian that cuts to local library services would “continue to bite the availability of dedicated resources such as advice on anxiety, stress, exams and bullying”. He warned: “Under-investing in our libraries simply pushes costs elsewhere and means that a young person growing up today has less help and is more vulnerable to the impact of mental health problems on their life.”

Read more at The Guardian

Children’s Mental Health Funding Not Going Where it Should

YoungMinds analysis reveals that many local health bodies are diverting some of the new funding received for children’s mental health services to other priorities.

In 2015, the government pledged an extra £1.4 billion over five years to “transform” Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Research undertaken by YoungMinds into the responses of 199 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) from Freedom of Information requests has revealed that:

  • Fewer than half of the CCGs who responded were able to provide full information about their CAMHS budgets. If CAMHS services are to improve, there needs to be far greater accountability about where money is being spent.
  • In the first year of extra funding (2015-16), only 36% of CCGs who responded increased their CAMHS spend to reflect their additional government funds. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of CCGs used some or all of the extra money to backfill cuts or to spend on other priorities.
  • In the second year of extra funding (2016-17), only half of CCGs (50%) who responded increased their CAMHS spend to reflect their additional government funds. The other half (50%) are using some or all of the extra money for other priorities.

Read the full news story here