What UK Government is thinking

Equality and human rights to be basis of mental health, vows government

The government has pledged that “justice, equality and human rights” will form the basis of mental health policy over the next 10 years.

The promise was in a department of health policy document called New Horizons which was released last week.

New Horizons outlines government mental health aims forl 2020.

Black and ethnic minority people’s “inequality” of access to, and experience of, mental health care will “disappear” by 2020, states the document.

It also states “everyone” will have access to high quality mental health care, and the link between poverty and mental/physical ill health will be tackled better than it has upto now.

The document promises to tackle the “root causes” of mental ill health, and to work on mental ill health prevention and combating mental health stigma.

The document, which is out for consultation, also states there will be an expansion of early intervention services, an increased move to personalised care, better multi-agency collaboration and an emphasis on value-for-money services.

New Horizons replaces the 10-year national service framework for mental health, launched in 1999.

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said the framework had “transformed” mental health services.

He said: “Our aim is to build on recent achievements, whilst simultaneously taking the next logical step – helping to prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. New Horizons will help us do this.”

Mr Hope said that due to investment over the last decade there are now 64 per cent more consultant psychiatrists, 71 per cent more clinical psychologists and 21 per cent more mental health nurses than in 1997.

But this month the Mental Health Act Commission reported that mental heath inpatient units are overstretched, leading to patients “being forgotten about”.

It found 30 per cent of wards were running at more than 100 per cent occupancy, and that there is an “increasing trend” towards acute wards being locked.

Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer said: “This report highlights some astounding failings in delivering even the most basic level of care.”

In addition, a Care Quality Commission report into the West London Mental Health Trust that runs Broadmoor high-security hospital said the facility is “totally unfit for purpose”.

The commission said the trust is putting patients at risk of harming themselves or others despite warnings.

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