Intended for healthcare professionals


Is it possible to recruit 21 000 extra staff for mental health services?

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 15 August 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3880
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Targets for boosting NHS staff seem to trip off the health secretary’s tongue, but what does the reality look like? Gareth Iacobucci reports

The government’s ambitious target to create 21 000 new mental health posts in England by 2020-21 has been welcomed by the NHS, but there are questions as to how it will be achieved.

The £1.3bn (€1.4bn; $1.7bn) pledge to deliver targets set in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health1 is underpinned by a government mandated plan,2 developed by Health Education England, NHS Improvement, NHS England, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and others.

But are the staffing targets credible within the tight timeframe or simply an example of ambitious headline grabbing on the part of England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt?

Ministers have promised 2000 new nursing, consultant, and therapist posts in child and adolescent mental health services; 2900 extra therapists and other allied health professionals to support expanded access to adult talking therapies; 4600 new posts for nurses working in crisis care settings; and big increases in perinatal support, liaison and diversion, and early …

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