RCN will use global mental health summit to highlight nurse shortages

Mental health lead Catherine Gamble will also criticise long waiting times for treatment

Mental health lead Catherine Gamble will also criticise long waiting times for treatment

RCN mental health lead Catherine Gamble. Picture: Barney Newman

The RCN’s mental health lead Catherine Gamble will raise awareness of nurse shortages in the specialty at a reception tonight, which will be attended by health ministers from around the world.

The event at Tate Modern in London forms part of the inaugural Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit, at which more than 50 countries are represented.

Ms Gamble said: ‘Safe staffing is key to providing effective services, but the number of mental health nurses has dropped by 5,000 since 2010.’

She added that inexcusable waiting times for treatment was another topic she wanted to discuss with delegates.   

‘In a week when we have learned that some people are waiting up to 13 years for treatment, it will be an important opportunity to raise the college’s concerns about the problems affecting our mental health services,’ she said.

Stark statistics

Ms Gamble was referencing data from a poll by the the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), published this week, in which one respondent said they had waited more than 13 years to receive the correct support.

The survey of 501 adult mental health patients in England, Scotland and Wales also found that 24% of respondents had waited more than three months to see an NHS specialist.

Comparison with cancer treatment

RCPsych president Wendy Burn labelled the waiting times ‘a scandal’.

‘If they were waiting many months or even years for cancer treatment there would be an outcry, but, for some reason, when it comes to mental illness long waits have been deemed acceptable,’ she said.

Global commitment

At the summit today, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock spoke of the UK government’s ambition to achieve parity between mental and physical health around the globe.

‘Countries from across the world are in London to agree action to tackle one of the defining challenges of the 21st century,’ he said.

‘Whether it’s challenging discrimination, promoting well-being at work, adopting new technologies, or empowering young people to take steps to a healthier future, long-lasting commitments will be made at this summit that will be a step towards achieving better mental health care for all.’

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