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Prove me wrong over £1 billion a year in mental health funding, says senior nurse

Cris Allen advises wait and see approach over new attitude to Cinderella service

A senior nurse fears mental health will remain a 'Cinderella service’ despite the government announcing more funding today.

Following a report by the independent Mental Health Taskforce, the government has pledged an extra £1 billion a year until 2020/21 to ensure an additional one million people receive treatment.

The independent Five Year Forward View for mental health in England reveals that one in four adults experiences mental health problems, carrying a cost of £105 billion a year. Despite access to psychological therapy improving, of those who need care only 15% actually receive it.

RCNi's Mental Health Practice consultant editor Cris Allen who is a former chair of the RCN’s mental health forum, said: ‘We get these reports and policy documents all the time which highlight mental health shortcomings, and often they are followed up with new funding.

‘So those of us working in this sector get a bit more optimistic, we feel we are cresting the top of the mountain, only to find when the next lot of service cuts come along it is mental health which bears the disproportionate brunt.

‘Mental health has been a Cinderella service since I was a student in 1979.

‘We get a pantomimic flash, Cinderella appears on the front of the stage, but then she gets immediately put back in the wings.’

Mr Allen said it would be fantastic ‘to be proved wrong’ on this occasion.

Recommendations by the taskforce in its five-year plan include that Health Education England (HEE) and other national bodies deliver a new multidisciplinary workforce strategy for mental health services by the end of this year.

This must make clear projections about staffing levels needed as well as the training in basic mental health awareness all staff will be required to receive.

An HEE spokesperson said this was already happening and that transformation of mental health care ‘can only be delivered by having the right numbers of skilled staff in place'.

She added: ‘We have set out our investment plan of 22% growth in the mental health nursing workforce by 2020.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'We have made monumental strides in the way we treat mental illness in this country — but we must go even further.

'Our shared vision of a seven-day mental health service means people will get the care they need, when they need it, and will help prevent mental illness in the first place.'

Read the full taskforce report here

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