22 July - Mental Health Network - Governance during the COVID-19 pandemic

23 July 2021

This week’s meeting was joined by Claire Murdoch, CEO Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and National Director for Mental Health, NHS England. Claire highlighted the work that’s going on to engage the new secretary of state and said she was heartened by the fact that the task force set up to explore the key barriers and levers around economic recovery is looking into children and young people’s mental health as part of its remit.

The task force is focusing on understanding the different types of psychological support young people need. The role of the NHS is to assess and treat young people as quickly and effectively as possible, as well as supporting the wider system – for example working with schools.

There was a discussion about a new set of principles developed for provider collaboratives, which could become a key way of driving change and transformation within integrated care systems. The areas that have done best are where the providers have worked collaboratively, owned the budgets and developed strong partnerships with the third sector.

There was a discussion about the financial investment being made in mental health services as part of the Long Term Plan. There should be reduced bureaucracy around capital spending, and it should become easier to spend money that has been agreed. It was acknowledged that the workforce is exhausted and that the workforce wellbeing offers provided in regions are a part of the solution, but this is a difficult situation and ultimately there is only so much that can be done. This can be impacted further with new investment, as without the workforce to deliver it can be difficult, but the focus needs to be on supporting each other with a sense of high generosity, trust and collaboration and supporting new people to enter mental health.

The third sector is also an important player in providing part of the pathway, as well as digital in helping to manage the demand against the treatment gap. The focus will remain on prioritising the sickest, but working with other partners to manage and support the wider population.

One guest suggested that there needs to be a priority on services for people with learning disabilities and autism, expressing a concern about a lack of appropriate services and too much of a focus on costs.

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