Helping a million more people by 2021

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind and independent Chairman of the Mental Health Taskforce explains why today’s publication of the Mental Health Implementation Plan is so crucial:

Earlier this year, the NHS’s independent taskforce on mental health, which I chair, published the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

It set out the priorities for government and the NHS to improve mental health care and support.

Since then, I’ve travelled across the country, from Hull to Exeter, and have been hugely encouraged by the support for the recommendations, and the enthusiasm of service users, families and professionals to deliver in the same co-produced way that we created the Five Year Forward View.

Today, NHS England publishes the accompanying implementation plan, which sets out in detail how services will reach a million more people a year by 2020/21.

The implementation plan is a detailed route-map that the NHS and other statutory bodies will follow over the next five years, and outlines how the promised £1billion extra funding will be invested to improve services. Resources will come from a combination of this additional investment and savings from all parts of the NHS, in recognition of the fact that if we get mental health services right, it eases pressure on other parts of the system.

It is everyone’s job now to deliver this plan. As chair of the Advisory and Oversight Group I will be keeping a close eye on progress and helping to make sure that the services and government departments involved are on track.

Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) are crucial to the success of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. These plans are where the ambitions of the overall strategy and the implementation plan come to life, as local services combine national priorities with the needs of the local population. STP leaders will be responsible for ensuring this happens, incorporating the goals of the Five Year Forward View into their plans.

The partnership between the NHS and the third sector is particularly important. In every local community, voluntary organisations are involved in the design and delivery of services, using their invaluable expertise and understanding of local needs to shape services. The third sector is also adept at making the most of limited resources, a skill that will be vital in these uncertain times; despite planned investment, we can expect demand to continue to rise, so innovative approaches to service design will be key.

How close does the implementation plan get us to the established aim of ‘parity of esteem’? I see it as a platform from which we can make significant progress.

Crucially, we cannot afford to become complacent – the job is just beginning and we must all play our part in making sure that everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets the help and support they need, when they need it.

Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer has been Chief Executive of Mind, the leading mental health charity working in England and Wales since May 2006.

He is Chair of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), the leading voice of the UK’s charity and social enterprise sector. Paul is also a trustee at Lloyds Bank Foundation which invests in charities supporting people to break out of disadvantage at critical points in their lives.

Paul is Chair of the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce – bringing together health and care leaders and experts in the field, including people using services, to lead a programme of work to create a mental health Five Year Forward View for the NHS in England.

Paul has an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of East London, is an Honorary Fellow of St Peter’s College Oxford and The Royal College of Psychiatrists, and was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2016.