Government is two years late on mental health home treatment promise

The government is two years late on its promise to have 100,000 people in a mental health crisis per year benefiting from home treatment.

The National Audit Office has confirmed that the Department of Health has met its target, set in 2002, of setting up 335 crisis resolution home treatment teams in England by 2005.

But, up to March this year, only 75,868 people per year were using the service which is an alternative to being admitted to hospital. Ministers had promised that, by 2005, 100,000 people per year would have home treatment.

Also, only half of people in a mental health crisis are ever assessed for home treatment, stated a report by the office.

Nevertheless, Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, which monitors the effectiveness of public services, said crisis resolution home treatment teams are “really beginning to prove their worth in the NHS.”

This month there have been two other key national mental health reports.

First, a Healthcare Commission census of mental health and learning disability services in England and Wales found black and ethnic minority people are up to three times more likely than white patients to be compulsory admitted to psychiatric wards. This increased rate is largely due to racism, say many academics and practitioners. In January 2005 the government launched a five-year race equality action plan in a bid to eradicate racism in mental health services.

A second commission report – this time on NHS healthcare generally – stated that 13.6% of independent (private or voluntary) mental health service providers have failed to reach five or more of the 32 national standards. This is more than two times worst than independent providers of non-mental health services.

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