We publish this report at a time when there is significant work being conducted to improve mental health services, both by the NHS itself and policy makers.
In addition to the implementation plan for the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, there is Professor Sir Simon Wessely’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, due to report later this year, which follows on from the Government’s recent Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health service provision.
Given this, we are not making system-wide recommendations for change at this time. Instead this report highlights the human impact of service failure to make sure there is no loss of momentum in the implementation of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.
We challenge those working in and scrutinising the system to consider whether the type of issues we have documented in this report are declining. If not, we urge NHS leaders to consider whether further work or investment is needed to make sure the ambitions set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health are achieved.
Our new three-year strategy will set out our ambition to begin publishing the majority of our casework online, including complaints about mental health services, which will help to further understanding of how services can be improved and the impact of failings when they happen.
In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the evidence from our complaints casework and if there are no signs of progress, we will consider what further action is required from policy makers and NHS leaders.
The ambition set out in NHS England’s plan for delivering the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health to ‘improve access and outcomes, deliver seven-day services, reduce inequality and realise efficiencies across the local health and care economy and wider society’ is laudable.
It is important that it is achieved.