Editor Dan Parton (23rd July 2012) hopes Health Secretary pays attention to the APPG's warning on the impact of NHS reforms on mental health:
People could be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu on reading last week’s report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health (APPG MH), which outlined their concerns about the place of mental health in the upcoming NHS reforms: they’re the same as what others have been saying for some time.
For anyone that missed it, the APPG MH’s report, Health and Social Care reform: Making it work for mental health, outlined 4 main concerns:
Commissioning: GPs may not possess enough knowledge of mental health problems to commission services effectively. Services that are commissioned must reflect the needs of people with mental health problems, to avoid good care becoming a postcode lottery
Local decision making: There is a need to ensure mental health features prominently in local health plans, so that people with mental health problems are encouraged to play a part in local decision making processes, and that public health professionals understand that mental health sits in their remit
Integrated care: Too many people find themselves lost in a maze of assessments when trying to access the health and social care services they need. Joining up services and simplifying access is an urgent priority
Personalisation: Too few people can access personal health budgets and many more do not understand their purpose.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? These are pretty much exactly the same concerns as mental health groups have been voicing ever since the plans for NHS reform were first mooted in 2010.
Evidently these concerns haven’t been addressed. That, and the fact that this influential Parliamentary group shares these concerns, must surely ring warning bells in the Department of Health. They cannot be dismissed as scaremongering or just being resistant to change.
Of course, fine words have been said by people like health secretary Andrew Lansley about mental health and how it will be given ‘parity of esteem’ with physical health in the reforms and that everyone will benefit. It makes for a good soundbite, but hasn’t allay any fears. Saying something will happen is very different to it actually happening, and those working in mental health are savvy – or cynical – enough to know that.
So, the Government has to take on board the APPG MH’s 4 concerns and address them as it looks to implement and deliver reforms in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. The 4 concerns are crucial to the success – or otherwise – of NHS reforms. In its mental health strategy of February 2011 – remember that? – the Government talked about ‘no health without mental health’. Now it has to prove it is serious about this and it isn’t just another soundbite.