Intended for healthcare professionals


Government must get a “firmer grip” on mental health crisis, says watchdog

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 09 February 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p324
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Increases in staffing levels, funding, and capacity across mental health services in England have not been enough to combat the rise in demand seen since the covid-19 pandemic began, the public spending watchdog has warned.1

The National Audit Office (NAO) has looked at the implementation of the government’s plans related to mental health since 2016, from the 2016 Five Year Forward View for Mental Health to the 2019 NHS Long Term Plan.

It found that while funding and workforce for mental health services have increased, as have the number of people being treated, there will still be “sizeable treatment gaps” by 2023-24 if further action is not taken.

NAO gave the example of the target to get 1.9 million people accessing talking therapy services by the end of 2023, which it said represented “just a quarter of those with a diagnosed need estimated before the pandemic.” It’s estimated that since 2021 a further 8 million people with mental health …

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