News

Tories promise 10,000 more mental health professionals

Conservative Party leader Theresa May has promised 10,000 more NHS mental health staff by 2020 under a new Conservative government.

Theresa May has promised 10,000 more NHS mental health professionals by 2020 under a new Conservative government

But, the RCN was quick to point out that under the Tory government and the previous coalition with the Liberal Democrats, mental health nurse numbers fell by 4,800.

Ms May's announcement on staffing came as she committed to overhauling the 1983 Mental Health Act in a bid to reduce the number of vulnerable people detained in police cells.

Increasing numbers

The number of people detained under the act have increased by 43% over the past decade, with black people significantly more likely to be held in secure mental health wards.

Ms May said: 'I am pledging to rip up the 1983 Act and introduce

Theresa May has promised 10,000 more NHS mental health professionals by 2020 under a new Conservative government


Tory leader Theresa May has pledged to introduce a new law confronting discrimination in
mental health. Picture: Getty Images

But, the RCN was quick to point out that under the Tory government and the previous coalition with the Liberal Democrats, mental health nurse numbers fell by 4,800.

Ms May's announcement on staffing came as she committed to overhauling the 1983 Mental Health Act in a bid to reduce the number of vulnerable people detained in police cells.

Increasing numbers

The number of people detained under the act have increased by 43% over the past decade, with black people significantly more likely to be held in secure mental health wards.

Ms May said: 'I am pledging to rip up the 1983 Act and introduce in its place a new law which finally confronts the discrimination and unnecessary detention that takes place too often.'

She added: 'We are going to roll-out mental health support to every school in the country, ensure that mental health is taken far more seriously in the workplace, and raise standards of care with 10,000 more mental health professionals working in the NHS by 2020.'

Equalities Act

She promised reforms to the Equalities Act to prevent discrimination at work, by ensuring people with conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are given the same protection currently granted to those with problems that have lasted more than 12 months.

Liberal Democrat former health minister Norman Lamb dismissed the promises as 'empty rhetoric'.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies said: 'Meaningful improvement to mental healthcare is always welcome, but they will need to work hard just to get back to the number of specialist staff working in this area in 2010.

'Under this government, there are 4,800 fewer mental health nurses and that goes some way to explaining why patients are being failed.

'For as long as parity of esteem between physical and mental health services remains rhetoric, this will not change.

'The NHS needs to see hard cash to deliver any plans.'

Chief executive of the mental health charity SANE Marjorie Wallace said it was a 'major victory' for the issues to be recognised, but added: 'What appears to be missing from this announcement are any plans to restore psychiatric units so that patients do not need to be sectioned in order to receive treatment, or be shunted hundreds of miles around the country to obtain one of the few available beds.'

Further information

Freedom of Information data reveals £4.5 million worth of cuts in 2017-18 by clinical commissioning groups


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to mentalhealthpractice.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs