Date:Wednesday 15 March 2017 — Thursday 16 March
Venue: Millenium Conference Centre, London
SOS: Missing Persons. Who will still be fit to treat 1.5M people with depression per annum by 2021? P.S. Can someone please tell the PM that the targets aren’t working. And the sanctions on welfare claimants aren’t helping.
2017 got off to a good start for mental health. The Prime Minister made a speech about the ‘Shared Society’ at the Charity Commission’s annual meeting on January 9th, which she used to launch the next phase of implementing the 5 Year Forward View for Mental Health: “We live in a country where … if you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand”, said Theresa May. That’s right. But then why does Jeremy Hunt refuse to ring-fence mental health funding? And where is the Workforce Strategy from Health Education England that we were told would be published by the end of 2016 to show us who’s going to deliver the help that the 5-Year Forward View says is needed? “You can make all the promises you want, but you must also have the workforce to deliver them” said Professor Sir Simon Wessely, whilst welcoming the PM’s good intentions. “A puny response to a burning injustice”, responded former Health Minister Norman Lamb MP, more bluntly. In our Question Time session with the BBC’s Mark Easton it was Norman Lamb who said that as the Minister he was desperately trying to pull as many levers as he could find – introducing waiting times in mental health for one – “only to find they weren’t attached to anything”! ‘There is a reason for this, Minister’ (says Simon). If your workforce is not given capacity to implement NICE guidelines you can ‘command and control’ all you like but your policy will fail. Reading between the lines of Jeremy Hunt’s announcements to Parliament on January 9th it is possible to discern the beginning of the end for “IAPT-command-and-control” to a new approach for psychological therapies: ‘choice and control’. But it will still need a workforce.
Our annual staff wellbeing survey has now closed and the findings will be announced at this year’s event. The Minister standing on the platform last year, Alistair Burt MP, said he was very disappointed: ‘I can’t be standing on platforms day in, day out, talking about a world-leading service if I’m standing on something that’s rusting away beneath me . . . It can’t be done unless [staff] feel valued and unless [staff] feel [that their] wellbeing is taken seriously’. I think when we look back in another 10 years we might see this as our own Brexit moment, when frontline staff said: ‘Yes, Minister, your access, recovery and savings targets are indeed evidence-based. They work for your advisers, your commissioners and, on paper, for your service users too. It’s just that we are falling over.” To respond with our own shared society, we launched a Collaborative Learning Network (CLaN) to re-set the balance from the bottom-up. Managers, clinical leads, practitioners, researchers all came together after last year’s survey to start to take their own initiatives on staff wellbeing. This year, we are sending an invitation to IAPT Clinical Leads and Mental Health Commissioners (Schwartz Rounds). We want to see if we can create a safe space for an honest conversation about targets, funding and sustainability. Encouragingly, myself and BPS Colleagues from the Charter Steering Group had just such a conversation this week with NHS England’s new Director of Mental Health, Claire Murdoch. We will see what emerges. For the Charter to make a difference your voice must be heard.
This brings us back to Health Education England’s missing workforce strategy and what it will or won’t say by the time we get to the conference. I assume you’ve seen it? No? A draft appeared briefly before Christmas saying we have had a major consultation with the public led by Paul Farmer so we don’t need another on workforce. True, the 5 Year Forward View states: “by 2020 every person should be able to say: ‘I have a choice of talking therapy so that I can find one appropriate to me’ (Mental Health Taskforce, 2016).” For this we need to know the gap between numbers of staff we have now and numbers needed for capacity to deliver patient choice, as well as targets for access, waiting times and recovery. This is not rocket science. But the Prime Minister’s vision of a shared society depends on getting it right. Why? Because if you don’t provide the right support to people on welfare benefits who need access to talking therapies - as Lord Freud said when he was Welfare Reform Minister - then you end up making the problem worse. DWP have said there will be no more cuts. But they’ve said nothing yet about support and nothing yet about lifting sanctions. Which is why we have launched a petition asking the Health Select Committee to look at this. Oh, by the way, if you missed HEE’s consultation ask your Professional body what they said – if anything - on your behalf. Then come and tell us what you think and support our Petition.
The roll call of experts we have invited for our 10th anniversary represents, as ever, today’s most influential voices who speak with integrity, honesty, and with important things to say. Your own voice over the years has, I hope, become important also for policy makers to listen to. I look forward to welcoming you to our 10th Anniversary conference.
Jeremy Clarke CBE, New Savoy Partnership Chair
Download the full Psychological Therapies in the NHS Conference Brochure.
Conference topics include:
The 2016 event saw the launch of the Staff Wellbeing Charter available here.
For conference news and updates follow @HCUK_Clare #newsavoy2017. To find out more about The New Savoy Partnership and view content from previous years events visit http://www.newsavoypartnership.org/