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Landmark report calls for better mental health data

Landmark report calls for better mental health data
15 February 2016

The Mental Health Taskforce calls for improved data for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), greater funding transparency, and clear expectations of CCGs.

The Mental Health Taskforce calls for improved data for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), greater funding transparency, and clear expectations of CCGs.

The report, The Five Year Forward View For Mental Health, released today, called for a focus on increased data for commissioners, integration, and increased transparency for the public over spending.

NHS England has welcomed the report from the independent Taskforce, along with David Cameron, prime minister, and Jeremy Hunt, health minister. The government has committed to delivering the recommendations, backed by £1 billion of new funding in the annual NHS budget by 2020.

The report realistically mentioned the risks as well as the opportunities for mental health services: “There will be uncertainty about the role and function of commissioning as local geographies change, responsibilities shift, and budgets come under pressure. NHS England and the ALBs must be clear what they expect of commissioners and ensure they are supported.”

The report read: “The inadequacy of good national mental health data and the failure to address this issue until recently has meant that decisions are taken and resources allocated without good information, perpetuating a lack of parity between physical and mental health care.”

Moreover, where data is shared to help commissioners – such as The National Mental Health Intelligence Network (NMHIN), run by PHE – “it lacks the analytical capacity of other health data networks”, the Taskforce argued.

Dr Phil Moore, chair of the NHS Clinical Commissioners Mental Health Commissioners Network, welcomed the report and added that commissioners often feel "that they are working in the dark, planning essential services without access to some key information. This applies as much to mental health services as it does to other parts of the system they commission.”

The National Information Board should now focus on a national stock take of mental health data, the report stated, to ensure it includes the most meaningful measures, which align with national priorities, and that collecting it does not place undue pressures on clinicians and service managers.

NHS England should ensure that by April 2017 population-based budgets are in place which give CCGs or other local partners the opportunity to collaboratively commission the majority of specialised services across the life course, the report said.

However, CCGs must ensure that people with multiple needs do not fall through service gaps, it recommended, for example due to more complex referral pathways.

By 2020/21, CCGs should be required to publish a range of benchmarking data to provide transparency about mental health spending and performance. Individuals will be able to rate services, holding commissioners and providers to account, the report stated.

The Department of Health and NHS England should require CCGs to publish data on levels of mental health spending in their annual report and accounts, by condition and per capita, including for children and adolescents from 2017/8 onwards.

CCGs must continue to increase investment in mental health services each year at a level that at least matches their overall allocation increase, it read.

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