Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) must do more to involve people with mental health problems in making decisions about health spending and services, a new report has said.

The report, by mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness, found that only a third of the 30 CCGs that took part in its survey regularly involve people with mental health problems and their families in decisions about services in their area. More worryingly, 1 in 10 CCGs have made no contact at all with patients affected by mental illness.

Meanwhile, the remainder were only engaging with this group in a sporadic way, for example with one-off events, rather than building ongoing relationships.

Focusing budgets
In addition, Rethink Mental Illness found that while more than 80% of CCGs said mental health was a priority, most are focusing their budgets on narrow incentivised areas. In particular, they are investing in Increasing Access to Talking Therapies (IAPT) for people with anxiety and depression.
While the charity welcomed increased investment in this area, it warned that wider investment is needed. The report urges NHS England to develop better measures and incentives to help ensure other areas of mental health, such as early intervention services, don’t lose out.

Building partnerships
The report also recommends that CCGs should build partnerships with local mental health networks and groups to develop plans for ongoing conversations with them. They also suggest that community groups and voluntary sector organisations should offer CCGs and local authorities support with planning local services.

Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “We were told that the new NHS would put patients at its heart, but the early indication is that this isn’t happening in most areas. CCGs have a legal duty to consult with patients and their families, so it’s worrying that 1 in 10 aren’t doing this at all. We’re pleased to see that some are getting it right, which shows it can be done. We found some excellent examples of good practice, which are highlighted in the report. Now we need other areas to follow suit.”