Successful implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan will require a dramatic increase in the number of people who work in mental health, according to Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation.
Duggan made the comments in relation to the publication of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) report, ‘Measuring Progress’, which outlines commitments to support and expand the mental health workforce in England.
The BMA found that many of the mental health workforce commitments made by the UK government for 2020/21, as well as the five-year forward view for mental health, are not on track to be met.
The BMA said: “This raises significant questions about the ability of the government to deliver on the new commitments to expand and improve the mental health workforce included in NHS Long Term Plan and the accompanying mental health implementation plan.”
It added: “There has been little growth in the mental health workforce in England over the last 10 years, with many of the key staff groups either remaining at a similar level since 2009 or declining.”
The BMA found the lack of workforce growth is affecting clinician’s workload, well-being and morale.
In one survey it conducted the BMA found 52% of NHS staff surveyed said they were too busy to provide the care they would have liked to provide on their last shift worked.
Some 63% said they work in a healthcare setting in which they have rota gaps across the team. 69% said on average gaps occurred either most of the time or all the time.
Commenting on these findings Duggan said: “This report highlights the challenges faced by staff who work extremely hard and need more support to provide the best care. Mental health and learning disabilities have some of the highest vacancy rates across the system.”
He added: “Successful implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan will require a dramatic increase in the number of people who work in mental health and the upcoming NHS People Plan is an opportunity to make this happen.”
“A long-term capital funding settlement for the sector would also improve the environment that staff work in, encouraging more people to work in mental health and to retain the brilliant staff we already have.”