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UK Needs Mental Healthcare Targets

Norman Lamb Thinks Mental Healthcare Services Need To Be More Closely Monitored


An MP for North Norfolk has called for new ways to monitor the provision of mental health services in the UK.

Norman Lamb believes there is an "institutional bias" against mental healthcare, the Eastern Daily Press reports.

He told the news provider that hospital-style treatment targets should be used to gauge the standard of care being received by patients with psychological conditions.

As things stand, hospitals must treat people with non-emergency physical ailments within 18 weeks, but no such deadlines exist for mental health service providers.

Mr Lamb said mental health has been viewed as a "Cinderella service" for far too long and work is needed to remove this stigma.

"Why is it that there is no standard of access in mental health when there is with physical health? The impact on wellbeing is sometimes greater in mental health," he was quoted as saying.

"It has been a battle to win arguments but we are getting there and I am determined to set standards by 2015. I want waiting times to reduce sooner than that."

Mr Lamb was speaking at a Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust carers' forum in Norwich, which was held to give more support to people who care for somebody with mental health issues.

His comments came shortly after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) underlined its commitment to improving standards of mental healthcare in the UK.

The regulator announced details of a collaborative arrangement with non-profit group Mind, which is aimed at giving people a stronger voice if they feel the levels of support they are receiving are not adequate.

Professor Sir Mike Richards - chief inspector of hospitals - also confirmed that a new deputy chief inspector would be employed by the CQC and they would have experience in mental health.

This, Mr Lamb stated, is an important step, as the new inspector could ensure the same standards that are applied to hospitals and organisations that treat physical problems are used to monitor mental health services.

Expert Opinion
In order for the service level to be improved and maintained it may be useful to implement targets to allow the NHS to measure the effectiveness of services and what areas need to be improved.

“Psychiatric patients are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Without access to a consistently high standard of care, the consequences can be devastating. It can be difficult to understand many mental health issues as there are no physical signs, therefore this means that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that vulnerable patients are receiving the best possible care.

“Some mental health issues can need just as timely emergency treatment as physical problems, so we need to ensure that there is a concise way of monitoring that improvements are being made and implemented across the NHS.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner