The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health: One Year On

NHS England’s National Director for Mental Health, Claire Murdoch, takes a look at the progress made in the first year of the Five Year Forward View programme.

We are currently marking the first anniversary of the publication of the Mental Health Taskforce Report and there are three things I want to say about this. Thank you; thank you; and thank you.

My first thank you is to Simon Stevens for commissioning the Independent Task Force, to Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, for leading it and to the thousands who contributed. The resulting report has not sat on a shelf – it has provided a credible road map for all of us who believe that better mental health services are an essential component of a civilised and vibrant society and NHS. It also led to me joining the team at NHS England with senior responsibility for the implementation of 20 plus recommendations for the NHS, and delivery of the most ambitious and exciting plan for mental health in a generation.

My second thank you is to the workforce. Over the past year I have witnessed impressive determination across the NHS and beyond, to drive improvements in mental health services. We published our implementation plan in July:  a clear, muscular plan, low on frills and high on deliverables. With sign up from NHS England, NHS Improvement, Public Health England, the Department of Health and Health Education England, it aims to deliver timely, evidence-based interventions to a million more people by 2021. A short time on, we have already seen some impressive delivery against this, including:

  • The first ever national access standard for children and young people with an eating disorder is now being measured in community teams.
  • New funds have supported improved specialist perinatal community services across 90 CCGs.
  • 87.7 per cent of people entering psychological therapy treatment waited less than 6 weeks.
  • Over 10,000 people with a first episode of psychosis started treatment with a specialist team; and
  • 74 per cent of people who started this treatment did so in two weeks.

This is just a snapshot of what’s been going on – see more in our One Year On Report.  We have a huge range of plans to improve mental health – from community eating disorder services for children to psychological therapies for people with physical health conditions or court diversion schemes – and lots in between. These treatments are almost completely new on a national scale and it is thrilling to know they will be mainstreamed by 2021.

It has been heartening to see commissioners shaping their mental health strategies; investing in what works and to see GPs and providers across the spectrum making more accessible, evidence-based care, a reality. We’re now seeing integrated models in primary care, in the management of long term conditions, in A&E departments and on the wards of acute hospitals. These are all examples of the benefits of intervening swiftly and expertly in interrelated physical and mental health conditions and settings.

We’re also seeing new emerging roles that maximise the talent and skills of those with lived experience of mental health problems. Peer support workers, trainers, those working in recovery colleges or patient lead organisations. Increasingly their impact is moving from consultancy, co- production, into commissioning and providing services themselves.

The motivation and passion in mental health to do better, differently and innovatively, is inspiring. Our workforce in primary care, acute care and in new and existing services, have been tremendous – so to them, and to the commissioners who invested in better mental health services, I say thank you.

My third thank you is to the visionaries who do not necessarily work in traditional mental health settings. Those in schools, housing, industry, prisons, voluntary groups, politics, media; all those, who have understood and embraced the fact that we all have a responsibility to challenge stigma, to create a different narrative and to take positive action around better mental health. It is to those of you who have understood the human, economic and practical case for change. I thank you for making mental health all our business.

We have made a strong start and must redouble our focus and efforts, to achieve our aims to 2021. I feel both proud and privileged to be leading this work and to be doing so alongside such brilliant people. Here’s to the next year!

Claire Murdoch

Claire Murdoch is NHS England’s National Mental Health Director.

She has been a registered mental health nurse for 34 years, and joined NHS England in April 2016.

She is also Chief Executive of Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. With a wealth of clinical and leadership experience she is leading delivery of the national mental health programme.


  1. Emmanuella says:

    I think it will be useful for NHSE professionals to liaise directly with clinicians and staff on ground to share areas of development as day to day staff have very limited knowledge of the 5 year forward view and other such initiatives

  2. Patricia Keane says:

    My son depends on a four weekly depot injection for paranoid schizophrenia. Just because he missed a doctors appointment twice at the Mental Health Clinic he has been advised he has been discharged from their services. Where else is he supposed to get treatment or medication? Due to having mental health issues, you should not just discharge somebody like this and show more empathy to somebody who regularly forgets appointments and does not receive text message reminders or phone calls. His mental health treatment has been a disaster following an attempted suicide last year and admission to hospital due to both ankles fractured. The Mental Health team did not review his medication and my son was virtually self prescribing due to inadequate records being located within the system. Its good to remove the stigma and talk, but walk the talk and give assistance to those in need of care.

    • Emmanuella says:

      Your son should make contact with his mental health team in his local mental health hospital to get support from a community mental health team if his compliance with treatment is not consistent