Local systems have been requested to strengthen the relationships between primary care networks (PCNs) and other local services to support adults with severe mental illness (SMI) in the community.
The NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24 asked systems to support local relationships between primary care – especially PCNs – secondary mental health care services, local authorities and the voluntary, community and social enterprise services.
This work needs to be done in preparation for the introduction of new integrated primary and community models to care for adults with SMI in the community, the plan said.
Selected areas will test these new models of care from 2019/20 to 2020/21 and will receive some central funding for this purpose.
Caring for adults with SMI in the community
As set out in the long-term plan, each STP/ICS need to have a new model of care in place by 2023/24, ‘with care provided to at least 370,000 adults and older adults per year nationally’.
The implementation plan said that these new models of care will be ‘built around PCNs’ and will ensure people can access ‘care, treatment and support at the earliest point of need, so that they can live as well as possible in their communities’.
From 2019/20, ICSs and STPs are expected to strengthen existing community services, meet the targets for SMI physical health checks, individual placement and support – a programme that helps individuals with SMI finding and retaining a job – and early intervention in psychosis.
They will also need to prepare ‘their local systems for mobilisation of new integrated primary and community model using central/transformation funding’, which all ICSs and STPs will receive from 2021/22 to 2023/24.
Local systems are also being encouraged to ensure their current staff take advantage of open opportunities for training in psychological therapies for people with SMI.
Last year, a survey by the mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness revealed that 28% of people diagnosed with a mental health issue are not referred by their GP to adequate services and people with SMI wait on average of 14 weeks to get assessed.
Commenting on the publication of the mental health implementation plan, Mental Health Network chief executive Sean Duggan said that ‘mental health services cannot succeed in a vacuum’ and that they ‘must work in partnership with other parts of the system, with mental health being threaded throughout STP and ICS plans’.