Nick Clegg Announces Mental Health Care Reforms

Deputy PM To Introduce Reforms To Mental Health Care System

09.10.2014

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has announced that significant reforms are set to be introduced to the UK's mental health care system as of April 2015.

Mr Clegg revealed these plans ahead of his speech at the Liberal Democrats' Party Conference in Glasgow, explaining that from next spring, targeted waiting times will be introduced, so that all patients who seek help for depression will be given access to talking therapy (counselling), within 18 weeks.

In addition, young people reporting symptoms relating to psychosis for the first time will be seen within two weeks, which is the same target attributed to patients who have been initially diagnosed with cancer.

Mr Clegg reassured patients, saying: "If you are having a breakdown, if you are thinking of harming yourself, for any emergency which takes you to A&E, you'll get the help you need."

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, care minister Norman Lamb stated that these reforms were a "watershed moment", bringing "genuine equality between mental health and physical health".

He explained: "This is a simple fact of discrimination. If you have cancer, you get access to a specialist within two weeks. If you have a first episode of psychosis, it's completely haphazard and that is outrageous. There's a moral and an economic case to do this."

However, as of next April, patients considering taking their own lives will be given the same level of medical attention as that attributed to those suffering from a suspected heart attack.

The new reforms will be funded by reallocations of money from elsewhere in the country's healthcare budget, as they are part of the coalition government's plans, rather than just the Liberal Democrats.

Currently, almost two-thirds of patients with mental health problems are given access to talking therapies within a month, but the measures announced by Mr Clegg will see the NHS have to meet a target of treating 95 per cent of these individuals within 18 weeks - something that should be achievable when the current result is taken into account.

Sometimes mental health professionals can fail in the duty of care. If you or a loved one has suffered due to professional or medical negligence we can help you to claim compensation. Visit our Mental Health Negligence Claims page for more information.

Expert Opinion
The announcement of reforms to the mental health services provided in the UK is a welcome one, as in our work we have seen the impact long delays in the treatment of mental health issues can have on sufferers. We hope that these new measures will be rolled out quickly and improvements to the delivery of care and support for those with mental health issues is improved.

“Diagnosis of mental health problems and access to the appropriate care, help and support in a short timeframe is crucial for patients. The increase in medical attention for those considering suicide, which will be similar to those suffering a suspected heart attack, is also a very positive step, as this will ensure help in on hand when it is most needed by those suffering with mental health problems.”
Tom Fletcher, Associate