Mental health crises to be treated within four hours in new NHS target
People suffering a mental health crisis will receive help within four hours, under NHS plans to give such problems the same priority as physical health.
A 10-year-plan for the NHS is expected to put mental health at its center, amid concern about rising levels of anxiety and depression in younger generations, according to The Telegraph.
The new four-hour target will say those suffering acute crises should expect to wait a maximum of four hours for admission to an acute psychiatric ward or to be treated at home, following assessment.
It puts mental health on a par with Accident and Emergency (A&E) care, where there is a four-hour target, to be admitted or sent home.
This A&E target is itself under debate, with a review examining whether minor injuries should be excluded from the category.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists, which has called for mental health targets, said that for too long, those suffering from such problems had been given too little priority, allowing crises to get worse.
Dr. Adrian James, registrar of the college, said: “A four hour target would focus minds, and ensure that mental health is given higher priority.”
He said that a long lead-in period would be required, given the current levels of pressures on the NHS.
Earlier this week, a review of the Mental Health Act said those suffering mental health problems were being locked up ‘like criminals’ and thrown into police vans when they were in need of medical help
The plan, due to be announced before Christmas, will detail measures to boost earlier detection of cancer, and efforts to encourage healthier lifestyles, with a particular focus on obesity.
It is also expected to call for a wider rollout of maximum four-week waiting times for treatment of children with mental health problems.
Simon Stevens, the head of the NHS, has said that an expansion of mental health services whill form a central plank of the long term plan, with a ‘major ramp up’ of care for children, using Theresa May’s £20 billion funding boost. Mr. Stevens has raised concerns that the health service has been left to ‘pick up the pieces’ of damage fuelled by an explosion in social media.
Levels of self-harm have risen by 68 percent among girls aged 13 to 16 in just three years.
The plan will see a new focus on heart disease, and prevention and treatment of stroke and heart attacks.
Simon Stevens, NHS head PA