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Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has announced plans to expand mental health provisions by injecting an extra £1.3 billion – resulting in thousands of new posts created within the NHS.
The aim is to recruit enough nurses, therapists and consultants to treat an extra one million patients by 2020-21. Whilst this is positive news, Mr Hunt has previously failed to deliver on other pledges that could have improved these services.
The £1.3 billion injection will be spent on recruiting staff, with the main focus on recruiting an additional: 2,000 in child and adolescent mental health services, 2,900 therapist and health professionals, 4,800 posts for nurses and health professionals and more mental health support for women around the time they give birth.
The proposed plans also include staff training, addressing high dropout rates among trainees and encouraging those who have since left the NHS, to return.
Mr Hunt said: “We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff.”
“We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future – today is the first step to address this historic imbalance in workforce planning.”
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health director for the NHS, stated the plan was not just about numbers, “It’s about having a motivated and skilled workforce in place to deliver the work we need to do.”
The president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Wendy Burn, outlined 570 extra consultants had been promised in the plans: “The biggest challenge to creating robust mental health services is the workforce. I am very supportive of this strategy which starts to tackle that problem.”
On the other hand, Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “There is already a dangerous lack of workforce planning and accountability and this report is unable to provide detail on how the ambitions will be met.
“It is clear the government will need to work hard just to get back to the number of specialist staff working in mental health services in 2010.” Davies continued, “Under this government, there are 5,000 fewer mental health nurses and that goes some way to explaining why patients are being failed. “
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