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Tue, 27 October 2020

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Mind today demands urgent clarity on the mental health provision of new hospital plans, as the country faces a growing crisis

Mind

3 min read Partner content

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announced spending plans to build, rebuild, and improve 40 hospitals by 2030. However, the mental health provision allocated is unclear, and falls far short of urgent need for improvement across the NHS.

Only two of the new proposals have a specific mental health element, despite the severe need for better services across England and Wales.

Mind has heard repeatedly about the ‘abysmal condition of many NHS mental health services’ and the impact this has on people’s recovery. With many mental health patients still being treated in out-dated and unsafe mixed-sex dormitories, poor facilities can at times put patients at risk of serious harm and sexual assault. This is backed up by repeated Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports concluding that many buildings are neither safe nor therapeutic. Hard-working mental health staff also face major challenges working in such tough surroundings, challenges which have only been exacerbated during the pandemic.

Despite a commitment to end mixed-sex dormitories, there is no mention of how and when they will be eradicated as part of the government’s spending plans announced today.

To address these issues a recent report by Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPSYCH) said that in order to address these problems that the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSE) and Health Service England (HSE) needs to provide NHS MH trusts with £4.4bn up to 2024/25 to deliver the first phase of a £1bn Mental Health Infrastructure Plan, to improve therapeutic environments, complete the end to dormitories and support delivery of the Long Term Plan.

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of mental health charity Mind says:

“We are concerned by the UK Government’s lack of clarity around mental health spending plans announced today, again showing that mental health services are being left at the bottom of the pile. Two new facilities will be welcome, but this falls far short of the expectations of people with mental health problems and professionals.

“In the past two weeks alone the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Centre for Mental Health have both highlighted the scale of the mental health crisis this country is facing. At a time when mental health problems are on the increase, and with children’s mental health services (CAMHS) in crisis, the public quite rightly expects mental health facilities to be as much of a priority as those for physical health.

“When the Prime Minister announced in June that dormitory mental health wards would be closed, it seemed like a step in the right direction for mental health care in this country. But to date not a single penny of that money has been allocated or spent. Today’s announcement raises serious questions about the UK Government’s commitment to bringing mental health services into the 21st century, and making sure people get the same level of care for their mental health as their physical health.

“The Government cannot back down on existing plans to improve mental health services such as the £250 million promised to end mental health dormitories. The pressing risk caused by sub-standard and unsafe mental health facilities cannot be ignored. Many are quite simply no longer fit for purpose and we should not expect people with mental health problems, nor the NHS staff who work in them, to be forced to deal with what are potentially dangerous conditions. We’ve long been urging the UK Government to increase investment in infrastructure to make sure everyone can access the support they need, when they need it - within safe, therapeutic environments.

“Given the extent of people who will need support for their mental health as a result of the pandemic, in addition to existing service demand, the UK Government must re-examine this decision as a matter of urgency, and commit to keeping their existing promise about ending dormitories and to longer term investment in the sub-standard mental health estate.”

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Connecting Communities

Connecting Communities is an initiative aimed at empowering and strengthening community ties across the UK. Launched in partnership with The National Lottery, it aims to promote dialogue and support Parliamentarians working to nurture a more connected society.

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