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Mental Health Services: Standards

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government have taken to improve the quality of services for mental health patients since 1997. (175592)

Mental health was identified as a key clinical priority in “Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation”, in 1998, which set out a target to reduce suicides by one fifth by 2010. This target is included in the Department’s public service agreement.

We published the first ever National Service Framework (NSF) in England for adult mental health services in 1999. It laid down models of treatment and care which people would be entitled to expect in every part of the country and was a deliberate move to raise the profile of mental health. Since then, mental health services have been working to implement a radical programme of modernisation to improve access to effective treatment and care, raise standards and provide quicker and more convenient services.

The “NHS Plan” 2000, aimed to strengthen community care and in doing so, take pressure off acute beds. It provided an extra annual investment of over £300 million by 2003-04 to fast forward the NSF.

From 2001-02 to 2006-07, real terms investment in adult mental health services increased by 31 per cent. (or £1.2 billion)—that is £1.9 billion in cash terms. The national health service spent over £5.1 billion on adult mental health services in 2006-07 compared to £3.9 billion in 2001-02.

Key targets were set for service delivery on early intervention, crisis resolution and assertive outreach services and, due to the NSF and increased funding, we now have over 700 new mental health teams working in the community.

During 2006-07, crisis and home treatment teams provided 95,000 episodes of home treatment against 84,000 in 2005-06 for people who would otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

The Government have allocated an extra £130 million in 2006-07 to provide more appropriate ‘places of safety’ for people detained under the Mental Health Act by the police.

We now have 55 per cent. more consultant psychiatrists, almost 70 per cent. more clinical psychologists and at least 20 per cent. more mental health nurses than we had in 1997.

Because of the NSF and increased funding, we now have over 700 new mental health teams working in the community (that includes assertive outreach, early intervention, crisis resolution teams).

A five-year action plan is in place to address inequalities in the experience Black and minority ethnic people have in accessing services.

We are also committed to expanding access to psychological therapies as a positive alternative to medication. By 2010-11, the NHS will spend £170 million per year on psychological therapies, with £33 million in 2008-09, £103 million in 2009-10 and £173 million in 2010-11. This investment will mean:

900,000 more people will be treated for depression and anxiety, many of whom will be completely cured;

450,000 achieving measurable recovery;

all GP practices will have access to psychological therapies as the programme rolls out; and

the average waiting time for psychological treatments will reduce from the current 18 months to a few weeks.