Mental Health Services Risk Being Overwhelmed

A survey of NHS trusts suggests that mental health services are close to being completely overrun.

This is due to escalated demand and a reduction in the level of staffing.

NHS Providers contacted organisations throughout the healthcare system, and found that around 70% of mental health leaders believe that demand will increase still further in the coming 12 months.

Yet only 35% were confident that they would be enough staff available in order to deliver an adequate level of service.

Responding to the survey, government ministers indicated that extra money being invested in the healthcare system will improve the level of care proffered.

But a BBC investigation discovered that the growing demand for mental health support is also being reflected in the ambulance service.

Responses obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicated that there has been a growing number of ambulance call-outs to people suffering from suspected mental health problems.

There were over 275,000 callouts for the ambulance service during the previous financial year, which was a significant increase of over 15% from the previous 12-month period.

Louise Rubin, of the charity Mind, believes that the increase can be attributed to those individuals with mental health difficulties who come into contact with the police to be transported by ambulance rather than with them.

“We are concerned that people coming forward and seeking help for mental health problems are not getting the support they need early enough, which means they are more likely to become more unwell and reach crisis point,” Rubin commented.

And Saffron Cordery, of NHS Providers, asserts that the biggest growth in demand is being seen in children’s mental health services.

The survey conducted by NHS Providers contacted around two-thirds of the total number of mental health trusts in England, with the findings of the survey being extremely concerning to the organisation.

Cordery asserts that there is an increasing gulf between the expectations of patients and the actual level of service being delivered.

“These concerns point to a growing gap between the government’s welcome ambition for the care of people with mental health needs and the reality of services they are receiving on the front line.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman, though, stated that the department is “committed to seeing mental health services improve on the ground.”

The spokeswoman went on to indicate that there will be an extra investment of £1 billion in mental health services by 2021, with £11.6 billion having been invested overall in the previous year.

This will help improve crisis resolution, home treatment teams and mental health support in A&E in particular, according to the Department of Health.


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