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“Ambitious” recruitment plan for mental health staff

Published on 31/07/17 at 09:40am

Jeremy Hunt has unveiled a plan to boost recruitment of mental health staff by using £1 billion in funds to ensure an extra one million patients could be treated by 2021.

The money will come from the £1.3 billion fund already promised for transforming mental health services in 2016, as part of the election promise to boost funding of the NHS by £8 billion.

The plan comes with the aim of creating 21,000 new posts by 2021. The chances of this goal being attained have already come under fire by the Royal College of Nursing’s Chief Executive, Janet Davies, who told the BBC that "2020/21 isn't far away and people should be in training from September. But taking away the student bursary means they haven't applied".

It should be noted that a major part of the plan is encourage those who have left the service to return to full time employment. There are approximately 4,000 psychiatrists and 30,000 mental health nurses who have left the service. However, it remains to be seen whether the conditions that encouraged them to leave will have changed much pre-recruitment drive.

Hunt referred to the plans as “ambitious”, and told the BBC: “We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff. We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future - today is the first step to address this historic imbalance in workforce planning.”

There have been those that have questioned the government’s ability to effectively recruit staff for the NHS, with 86,035 vacant positions posted in the first quarter of this year alone revealed from NHS Digital data.

However, there are also those that support the move, especially in terms of displaying greater urgency to combat the growing mental health crisis that is developing in the country. It was revealed that 27 out of 39 mental health trusts had seen their workload increase, with some seeing suicidal or self-harm support demand rise by 60%.

Ben Hargreaves

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