The enquiry was launched following the publication of Mental Health and the Economic Downturn in November 2009 – a piece of joint work carried out between the RCPsych, NHS Confederation and the London School of Economics. The enquiry represents a serious effort to consider service redesign in mental healthcare, and give voice to the people who work at the heart of our mental health services.
More than 50 psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, commissioners, trust chief executives, academics, health economists, voluntary sector chief executives, service users, carers, medical directors and national mental health programme leads gave evidence to the enquiry. The resulting paper, Looking Ahead: Future development of UK mental health services, makes recommendations based on their views.
Professor Dinesh Bhugra, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “We know there is growing pressure on NHS services to cut costs and do more work for less money. Although the College is opposed to disproportionate or harmful cuts to mental health services, we are aware that efficiency savings do need to be found.
“Our enquiry explored ways of creating efficiencies and improving productivity through redesigning services and care pathways, making better use of consultant expertise, the need for standardised outcome measures in mental health, and the need for more family-based mental health services. The recommendations covers areas such as the use of out-of-area treatments and the paucity of mental health services for older people – where efficiency savings can, and should, be made.
“More widely, the recommendations call for greater partnership working between the statutory and voluntary sectors, and for strengthened commissioning arrangements to enable this to happen, as well as renewed effort to ensure that supported accommodation for people with mental health problems is available in a timely and safe manner.”
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The paper, Looking ahead – Future development of UK mental health services: recommendations from a Royal College of Psychiatrists’ enquiry, is published on 21 June 2010. A separate document containing the various views expressed by everyone who took part in the project is available to download from www.rcpsych.ac.uk/redesign