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Vanguards must push mental health services ‘much further’ to overhaul services

Vanguards must push mental health services ‘much further’ to overhaul services

New care models across the country risk missing a ‘key opportunity’ to significantly improve mental health services, a new report has found
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New care models across the country risk missing a ‘key opportunity’ to significantly improve mental health services, a new report has found.

The report, by The King’s Fund and backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), found that mental health has not been a high enough priority in many of the vanguard sites, with efforts to integrate mental and physical health service failing to be ambitious enough.

The report urges areas that are developing new ways of working, particularly through sustainability and transformation plans, to offer more mental health support in GP practices and in hospitals, and to consider mental health as a key part of their approach to public health. 

Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund, said: ‘Some of the vanguards have made real progress on mental health, but overall we need to go much further.

‘The approaches being developed in the vanguards are intended to be a blueprint for the future of the NHS, so mental health needs to be at their core.

‘Getting this right means better quality care, and could also help the NHS to meet the challenge of providing health care free at the point of use to an ageing population.’

The report acknowledges that some areas are improving mental health services, including the Tower Hamlets Together vanguard in East London, where the number of bed days accounted for by people with dementia, serious mental illness and depression has been reduced by 12.7%.

RCPsych president Professor Sir Simon Wessely said: ‘These integrated care models offer a pathway to revolutionised health services in this country, but the report’s findings are worrying.

‘In addition to giving health providers greater incentives to fully integrate mental health into all their physical health services, we need to properly evaluate these models so we know what works and what doesn’t.’

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