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NHS Confederation - Bold leadership vital to tackle major gap in mental health investment

As all parts of the health system look towards the arrival of Simon Stevens at the helm of NHS England, providers of mental health and learning disability services have said it is essential he does not underestimate the need to focus on mental health.

The NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network (MHN) is calling for Mr Stevens to demonstrate a commitment to parity between mental and physical health.

The call sits alongside the mental health sector’s continued challenge of unequal funding reductions for acute hospitals and mental health services.

Parity of funding

At its 2014 annual conference and exhibition today (26 March) – which focuses on the future of mental health over the next 20 years – the network says the Government’s pledge on parity of mental and physical health must be matched with parity of funding.

The network's latest publication, The future of mental health: #MHN2014 – being launched at the conference – says projections for a significant gap in investment are a major cause for concern among members, and that bold leadership is vital to tackle it.

Coherent plan

The paper sets out challenges facing mental health and mental health services, including demographic changes and economic challenges.

A coherent plan is essential if the sector is to meet the future demands it will encounter, it says.

Innovation, technology and the future workforce

The discussion paper challenges providers of mental health and learning disability services to be ready for the future by developing innovative new models of care, making better use of technology to deliver more efficient services, and developing a consensus on how the sector’s future workforce should look.


At a keynote session, the MHN’s senior team will lead members in exploring how to ‘future-proof’ high-quality cost-effective mental health services, including a discussion on joining up care and considering what sort of organisational model is best placed to deliver future services.

Chief executive of the Mental Health Network, Stephen Dalton, said: “Mental health services are at a tipping point. After decades of transformational change and improving care within resources available, it’s now time for the Government to play its part and recognise the importance of mental health.”

Critical conversations

Delegates at the sold-out conference will also hear from Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb MP, and NHS England’s outgoing chief executive Sir David Nicholson, in his last major engagement before stepping down at the end of the month.

In a separate session, chaired by NHS England’s national clinical director for mental health, Dr Geraldine Strathdee, delegates will look at ways of improving emergency responses to mental health crises.

Dr Strathdee will be joined by Commander Christine Jones, mental health lead at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive at charity Turning Point, to discuss joined up responses for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Find out more

Find out more about the conference and join the debate on Twitter #MHN2014

Download The future of mental health: #MHN2014. 

Discover more about the Mental Health Network and its work to support members. 


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