Mental health leaders told to “grasp the challenge”

NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, today called for a drive aimed at improving care for psychosis patients across the country.

Dr Strathdee told 150 delegates at the National Psychosis Summit to share best practice and help put together an action plan for making improvements to care across the country.

“The new armies geared to action for change on psychosis care are in this room,” she said. “We have spent the last year talking about this, so now we need to move to action.”

Dr Strathdee told delegates to “talk about action and to think about the really practical things we can do.

“I have absolute faith in the mental health world’s ability for innovation and to be able to function.”

She added: “We need to listen to carers’ groups as well as psychosis survivors.  They give invaluable insights into services.”

“We are about to start a national debate about what works for whom and in what setting. We need to listen to the survivors of psychosis.

“In a couple of weeks we will be helping 211 CCG mental health leaders to know what ‘good’ looks like.

“People want to be informed. They want to know if they have a psychosis and how they deal with it.

People want the right medication and the right psychological therapies.”

Organised by Rethink Mental Illness in partnership with NHS England and the Department of Health, the summit brought together providers, commissioners, experts and regulators to focus on ways of improving psychosis care at both national and local level.

Dr Strathdee added: “I am absolutely delighted that so many leaders have come together to drive forward improvement of the care we provide to people affected by psychosis.

“We are at a critical point. We know the problems. We have data in spades. We know where things work. We want to learn from the best approaches, and support others to follow. So the major challenge we face is entirely about implementation.”

The summit, chaired by Lord Victor Adebowale , who also chairs NHS England’s Parity of Esteem Board, was also addressed by health minister Norman Lamb.

He said: “It’s completely unacceptable that the experience of mental health patients is so haphazard.

“We need to make crucial changes to put mental health on a par with physical health.  Mental health needs to get funding that doesn’t leave it disadvantaged. Mental health cannot continue to lose out.

“People with mental health problems are left in the past with a life expectancy 15 to 20 years less than those without.

“We live in a world where newspapers use words like ‘psycho’. We need the papers to sign up to challenge the stigma of psychosis.

“We need a plan of action for change. Following today I want to engage to take forward the conclusions we make today.

“Despite the fact there are enormous challenges there is an opportunity for us to grasp and it is a collective endeavour.

“Personal Health Budgets give service users control over what is available to spend on what is important to them. The next big frontier is mental health and giving control to service users changes the dynamic and forces the system to listen.

“I am determined to make services better for people with psychosis. We all need to do our bit and ensure funding is better spent.”

Victor Adebowale, who is also chief executive of Turning Point, told the summit:  “I want to see the challenges we face as energy for change rather than excuses for where we are.

“We can either mourn the past and the things we hold dear.  We can attack and regret – useful for us but not for those we need to help outside, or we can grasp the opportunities that are available to us – we can pursue the future with the people outside this room.

Read Dr Geraldine Strathdee’s blog: Committed to improving the lives and outcomes of people with psychosis