Statement on the National Mental Health Taskforce Report

Date: 16 February 2016

Somerset Partnership acknowledges the findings of the report and welcomes the focus and impetus to deliver the parity of esteem and resources for mental health services that the Taskforce recommends.

Andy Heron, Chief Operating Officer, said:

“We recognise many of the findings set out in the Taskforce’s report and note the historically low level of funding for mental health in Somerset compared with most other areas in England. We have been working actively over recent years with our commissioners to redress this lack of funding and to develop services to meet the growing needs of our local population.”

Recent initiatives include:

  • additional investment in Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and eating disorder services
  • development of a 0 – 25 years service, (extending the 0 -18 years service) to support early diagnosis and continuity of care in early adulthood which  is often the crucial stage in mental health
  • development of 24/7 crisis services across the county from April 2016
  • improved access to psychological therapies.

Andy Heron continued:

“In addition, as a provider of both mental health and community health services, we are uniquely placed to ensure that patients with mental health issues have their physical health needs assessed and met within the community.

“As the report reflects, while there have been significant strides made in developing the principles of parity of esteem for mental health services, this is still not fully reflected in the funding of the services.

“Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has sought to invest in mental health services (an additional £1.3 million last year), albeit from a comparatively low level of funding previously and, while we recognise the pressures that exist in acute hospital services and the financial challenges across the health system, we are hopeful that there will be a positive settlement this year to reflect the needs outlined in this report.

“It must be acknowledged though that the financial challenges currently facing local authorities at present represent a real risk to delivering parity of esteem for mental health services. Adult social care services in Somerset are facing significant pressures and we will need to reflect on the current proposals being considered by Somerset County Council in relation to funding mental health services and their implications on achieving the ambitions set out in the report.”