Mental health trusts face surge in demand

Mental health trusts are reporting increased numbers of people needing urgent and emergency care, according to a new report.

The report by NHS Providers says many people who need help and support are not accessing services until they reach a crisis point and warns of pent up demand that has built up during the lockdown.

The report also highlights the critical role mental health trusts have played in maintaining and adapting mental health services while supporting colleagues in the acute hospital, community, ambulance and primary care sectors.

Some of the important steps include setting up mental health A&Es and 24/7 emergency service access lines.

The report says trusts are keen to reap the benefits of the rapid innovation prompted by the outbreak, although the changes will need to be properly evaluated, bearing in mind the enormous strain on staff as they have responded to the challenges posed by the virus.

It also says the government and national policy makers must take account of the pressures mental health services will face in the weeks and months ahead.

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: ‘The way that mental health trusts have adapted and innovated to maintain services and support the response to COVID-19 is nothing short of remarkable.

‘The achievements are all the greater given that until recently the sector had been neglected and under-prioritised over many years.

‘However, trusts need support now to navigate the next stage of the pandemic and meet the pressures their services will continue to face in the weeks and months ahead, given the predicted surge in demand for mental health care as lockdown eases,’ she added.

‘This includes adequately prioritising their needs for PPE, testing, and investment in their estate, and fully and promptly funding the required expansion of services, on a sustainable basis, to meet the extra need created by the pandemic.

‘Despite substantial progress, with new services and higher levels of investment, we know there was a significant care deficit in mental health before this pandemic. Without urgent action, the impact of COVID-19 will make that much worse. We can and must not let that happen.’

Photo Credit – Wokandapix (Pixabay)

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