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Exclusive: New project to examine needs of mental health workforce

The mental health workforce of the future is under the spotlight in a new project commissioned by HEE and the Mental Health Network.
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A new project has been commissioned to look at the needs of the mental health workforce, which will report back at the end of this year

The collaboration between Health Education England (HEE) and partners including the Mental Health Network (MHN) will assess what the mental health workforce of the future will look like.

Speaking to Mental Health Practice, MHN chief executive Sean Duggan said that the NHS Five Year Forward View plans for mental health revealed a need for thousands more in the workforce.

Where are they going to come from? asked Mr Duggan, who has a background as a mental health nurse.

Protocols

We have already got difficulties recruiting, so we need to be thinking of the workforce of the

A new project has been commissioned to look at the needs of the mental health workforce, which will report back at the end of this year


Mental Health Network chief executive Sean Duggan says there is
a need for a larger mental health workforce. 

The collaboration between Health Education England (HEE) and partners including the Mental Health Network (MHN) will assess what the mental health workforce of the future will look like.

Speaking to Mental Health Practice, MHN chief executive Sean Duggan said that the NHS Five Year Forward View plans for mental health revealed a need for ‘thousands more in the workforce’.

‘Where are they going to come from?’ asked Mr Duggan, who has a background as a mental health nurse.

Protocols 

‘We have already got difficulties recruiting, so we need to be thinking of the workforce of the future. Will we require more peer support workers, more nurses, more doctors?

‘The MHN – in partnership with HEE – has commissioned some work to look at what is the workforce of the future and this is due to be reported at the end of 2017.’

On the issue of safe staffing, Mr Duggan said he could not arrive at a number but felt there are plenty of protocols to identify what safe staffing levels should be.

He said: ‘Safe staffing has to be determined locally, but what we do know is that in terms of long-term chronic financial pressures, and difficulties in recruiting staff, they are not always achieved.’

‘Urgent work’

Mr Duggan added that new routes into nursing, including nurse associates and nursing apprenticeship degrees, needed closer examination.

‘We have got to think about these roles and ask is it easier to attract those?’

The Five Year Forward View for mental health, published last February, called for ‘urgent work’ to develop robust health and social care workforce planning for mental health to:

  • Identify and fill workforce gaps.
  • Provide the right training and support.
  • Involve carers, as appropriate.
  • Provide annual projections for staff numbers and costs.

Project underway

One recommendation was that HEE should work with NHS England, PHE, the Local Government Association and local authorities, professional bodies, charities and others to develop ‘a costed, multi-disciplinary workforce strategy for the future shape and skill mix of the workforce’. 

A spokesperson for HEE confirmed the project with MHN was underway.

‘This work will enable HEE to get the provider view of the long term needs of the mental health workforce.

‘We expect it to support our work on the long-term view.’


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