Guidance on new mental health standards published

NHS England has set out guidance for how new access and waiting time standards for mental health services are to be introduced.

In October, NHS England and the Department of Health announced the measures in Improving better access to mental health services by 2020.

NHS England’s guidance, out today for CCGs, explains the case for change in four areas and sets out the expectations of local commissioners for delivery during the year ahead working with providers and other partners.

It sets out how commissioners and providers can begin to prepare for implementation of the new early intervention in psychosis and liaison mental health standards. It says plans need to be submitted about how local commissioners will meet the new IAPT standard for people with depression and anxiety disorders. It also updates on funding for eating disorders services.

Dr Geraldine Strathdee, NHS England national clinical director for mental health, said: “It marks an important milestone for mental health services.

“This will change the lives of young adolescents and adults with psychosis and they will no longer face an almost inevitable future of 20 years premature mortality from poor physical and mental health.

The guidance is the first step to working with commissioners and providers, community leaders and workforce education bodies to make this happen.”

She said the new access measures are a major step towards the Five Year Forward View commitment to integrating physical and mental health care.

“These services will support patients in mental health crisis who come to A&Es, patients on acute wards, and in long term conditions outpatient clinics,” she added.

In October, a wide range of measures were announced including a new standard whereby 50 per cent of patients experiencing their first episode of psychosis will, from 1 April 2016, access NICE concordant care within two weeks of referral.

Also from April 2016, 75 per cent of patients with depression or anxiety disorders needing access to psychological therapies are to be treated within six weeks of referral, and 95 per cent in 18 weeks. By 2020 all hospitals are to have effective liaison mental health services in place across acute settings.

It has been announced that £80m for mental health will fund the measures for 2015/16. It will be split with £40m to support implementation of the early intervention in psychosis standard, £10m to support the IAPT standard and £30m targeted to support the development of liaison mental health services.

A commitment of £30m for the next five years was made in the Autumn Statement to improve timely access to evidence-based community eating disorder services.

The guidance out today backs this announcement firstly with the case for change.

For example, it states that when treatment is delivered according to the NICE standards for people experiencing a first episode of psychosis, their experience of care and their outcomes are very significantly improved.  Timely access to NICE concordant care has been shown to have a significant impact on reducing the risk of suicide. People with psychosis who receive effective early intervention services are also far more likely to get a job.

Within IAPT services for people with depression and anxiety disorders, at least 50 per cent of those completing treatment move to recovery and most experience a meaningful improvement in their condition.

A number of national resources in each area will help commissioners with implementation of each of the four standards. These are to be developed in partnership with the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.  The NCCMH is the body responsible for developing mental health guidelines on behalf of the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The guidance also shows the draft Referral to Treatment (RTT) pathway for first episode psychosis which will form the basis of monitoring performance against the new standard.