Devon welcomes plans to increase mental health care workforce

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Plans to recruit more mental health care workers to improve services have been welcomed by health bosses in Devon.

Today health secretary Jeremy Hunt has launched an ambitious plan to expand the mental health workforce, and has set out measures to tackle the ‘historic imbalance’ in workforce capacity to fulfil the government’s ambitions to improve mental health services.

The government committed £1bn to transform mental health services with a pledge to treat an extra one million patients by 2020/21, provide services seven days a week, 24 hours a day and properly integrate mental and physical health services for the first time

Developed by Health Education England (HEE) together with NHS Improvement, NHS England, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other key mental health experts, the plan launched today shows how the health service will dramatically increase the number of trained nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, peer support workers and other mental health professionals to deliver on its commitment and tackle the ‘burning injustice’ of mental illness and inadequate treatment.

By 2020/21 local areas will need to create 21,000 new posts in priority growth areas to deliver the improvements in services and support set out in the NHS’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

Among those pleased with the announcement is Devon adults mental health services provider Devon Partnership Trust.

Its chief executive Melanie Walker said: “We welcome the government’s plans to increase investment in the recruitment of mental health professionals over the next few years, and its ambition to create the capacity to treat many more people.

“Like other similar organisations across the country, we struggle to recruit qualified nurses and doctors and our frontline teams do a marvellous job in delivering high quality services while frequently under-staffed.

“We look forward to seeing the detail of the proposals and very much hope that they will support our ongoing efforts to attract and retain great staff.”

Under the plans, major specialties will see an expansion in numbers, with the plan targeting areas where there are forecast to be particular shortfalls as demand on services increases.

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It concludes that there should be:

  • 2,000 additional nurses, consultants and therapist posts created in child and adolescent mental health services
  • 2,900 additional therapists and other allied health professionals supporting expanded access to adult talking therapies
  • 4,800 additional posts for nurses and therapists working in crisis care settings, with the majority of these (4,600) being nursing positions
  • Perinatal mental health support, liaison and diversion teams and early intervention teams working with people at risk of psychosis should also see significant increases.
  • Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff. We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future – today is the first step to address this historic imbalance in workforce planning.

    “As we embark on one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe it is crucial we have the right people in post. That’s why we’re supporting those already in the profession to stay and giving incentives to those considering a career in mental health.

    “These measures are ambitious, but essential for delivering the high performing and well-resourced mental health services we all want to see.”

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