SANE’s mental health priorities for a new Government
In all the plethora of pledges we urge the new Government, if it wants to give mental illness the same priority as physical illness, to rebuild the workforce and restore high-quality therapeutic inpatient units while also reforming and creating far more accessible and responsive services in the community.
Many thousands of people with mental illness are still struggling to get any care and treatment, despite all the commitments made to provide substantial additional funding and the promised reforms of mental health services outlined in the NHS long term plan.
The key areas that urgently need addressing are:
Inpatient beds: We have lost almost 50,000 psychiatric beds in England in the last thirty years, and these relentless closures mean patients who may be at serious risk of suicide or self-harm are being turned away from A&E departments, or if they reach the high threshold for admission, shunted hundreds of miles across the country to the nearest available psychiatric bed.
This betrays the vision of care in the community – that the best way to recover is to be treated in your own area, near family and friends, and professionals you know.
Staff: Psychiatric services are facing crippling shortages in consultants, nurses and other mental health workers, which undermines both community teams and inpatient units. Only two years ago the Government pledged to significantly increase the numbers, but there remains little sign that much has changed.
Choice: Currently, although patients have been offered the promise of choice they have no choice over whether to have inpatient care, little choice in medication, or on community teams to which they are assigned.