A 2018 study by the King’s Fund found that 10% of all posts in specialist mental health services in England are vacant. For mental health nurses, the “backbone” of mental health services:
“vacancy rates ranged from 8.1 per cent in the north east to 25.7 per cent in London…with none of the trusts [which were reviewed] able to recruit sufficient nurses to meet established staffing requirements”
The manifesto promised to improve mental health services in all parts of the country by recruiting up to 10,000 more mental health professionals in the NHS.
In July 2017, the government launched a plan explaining what it will do to achieve this. The plan suggests recruiting 2000 more nurses, consultants and therapists in child and adolescent mental health services, 2900 more therapists or similar health professionals in adult talking therapies, and 4800 nurses and therapists in crisis care. To attract these employees, the plan suggests creating incentives for potential mental health professionals.
In the meantime, the government hopes to fill the short-term gap through international recruitment. The government also said it will use part of an extra £1.3 billion it has invested in mental health services to fund this project.
So the government has set out a plan to recruit up to 10,000 mental health professionals and allocated a budget to fund the plan, which means we have to say this policy is ‘in progress’.
When we look at the facts, however, the word “progress” might appear overly generous. In a written answer to a question about mental health staff in September 2018, a Health minister said:
“There are 183,476 full time equivalent staff working in mental health in NHS (sic)… This is an increase of 915 (0.5%) compared to March 2017.”
We’ll need to see evidence of far greater increases in staff numbers before this can be considered ‘done’. Follow this policy for updates.
- Funding and staffing of NHS mental health providers: still waiting for parity – The King’s Fund
- Mental Health Services: Staff:Written question – 171694 – Parliament.uk
- Mental Health – Health Education England
- Stepping forward to 2020/21: The mental health workforce plan for England – Health Education England
- Thousands of new roles to be created in mental health workforce plan – Gov.uk