pauljenkinsRethink Mental Illness has launched a scheme to improve health services for people with schizophrenia and psychosis.

The charity has teamed up with 11 NHS Trusts to launch the Rethink Mental Illness Innovation Network, which will test new and innovative services for people with severe mental illness.

The project will focus on issues such as improving mental health hospital care, tackling physical health problems, boosting morale among mental health professionals and helping people with mental illness get into employment.

This follows last year’s report from Rethink Mental Illness’ Schizophrenia Commission, which revealed serious failings in the state of care for people with schizophrenia and psychosis.

The Innovation Network hopes to transform mental health services in the 11 ‘beacon’ NHS Trusts that have signed up and then use them as examples of best practice for the rest of the NHS.

The NHS Trusts participating in the Network are:

• 2Together NHS Foundation Trust (Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and surrounding areas)
• West London Mental Health NHS Trust
• Manchester Mental Health & Social Care NHS Trust
• South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
• Tees, Esk & Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust
• Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
• East London NHS Foundation Trust
• Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust
• Leeds & Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
• South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
• Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.

The Priory is also taking part in the project as private provider of mental health services.

Paul Jenkins, CEO of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Last year the Schizophrenia Commission showed that care and treatment for patients is nowhere near good enough. It highlighted that people with schizophrenia are dying 15-20 years earlier than the general population and that only 7% are able to get a job. Too many people are falling through the gaps in the system and ending up in prison or homeless.

“But by developing better services, we can transform people’s lives, and that’s why we’ve launched the Innovation Network. This project will help us find out what services work best for people with schizophrenia and psychosis, and then put them in place across the NHS. It could make a massive difference to people in England who are affected by severe mental illness.”

Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister, added: “We’ve come a long way in tackling the stigma around mental illness, but it’s clear that some people with conditions like schizophrenia still aren’t getting the treatment they need. Last year the Schizophrenia Commission set out how the system could be changed, and that’s why the launch of the Innovation Network is so important in improving the quality of care.

“This Government has made improving mental health services a bigger priority than ever before, and we’re determined that mental health is treated with as much importance as physical health in the NHS.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Rethink Mental Illness to make sure that people with schizophrenia and psychosis are able to receive quick, safe care with the right treatments available, as and when needed.”

For more information about the Rethink Mental Illness Innovation Network, visit