Ministers plan ‘ambitious’ mental health recruitment drive

31 Jul 17

The government intends to recruit an extra 21,000 mental health staff through a £1.3bn investment, it said today  – although nursing leaders cast doubt on the viability of the plans.

The aim is to recruit enough nurses, therapists and consultants to treat an extra one million patients by 2020-21 and provide 24/7 cover throughout the week.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff.

"We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future – today is the first step to address this historic imbalance in workforce planning.”

Hunt called the measures “ambitious” and said the move represented “one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe”.

Under the proposals, the government would recruit 2,000 nurses, consultants and therapists in child and adolescent mental health, 2,900 staff working on talking therapies for adults, 4,800 nurses and therapists in crisis care and 570 new psychiatric consultants.

However Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, said the plans “appear not to add up”.

She stated that, in order to meet the 2021 deadline, training would need to begin next month and with a withdrawal of the university bursary applications were down, making the task even harder.

Davies stated: “There is already a dangerous lack of workforce planning and accountability and this report is unable to provide detail on how the ambitions will be met.

“It is clear the government will need to work hard just to get back to the number of specialist staff working in mental health services in 2010.

“Under this government, there are 5,000 fewer mental health nurses and that goes some way to explaining why patients are being failed.

“The NHS needs to see hard cash to deliver any plans.”

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