Mental health services will see a “surge” in people seeking care as lockdown eases, a new report has predicted.
Most of these services have not been scaled back during Covid-19 – unlike other areas of the NHS.
A report by NHS Providers, which represents NHS organisations, praised the way organisations have responded to the pandemic but warned of additional pressures in the weeks and months ahead.
Mental health providers are already beginning to report a “significant increase in demand and the severity” of patients seeking help, the report states.
Labour’s shadow minister for mental health urged the government to take action now backing NHS Providers’ calls for a strategic national plan.
As part of this the report urges the government to ensure that mental health trusts have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, that they have the funds they need and enough staff to match the rise in demand.
“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,” said Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers .
“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.
“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.”
Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: “Mental Health trusts must not be forgotten in this crisis.
“With a surge in demand for mental health services expected, the government must have a plan in place for both our brave staff on the frontline, and for people who need to use these services.
“NHS Providers are right to be calling for a strategic national plan – it is unacceptable that the government has not yet outlined one. The government should not be waiting until there is an even greater crisis to manage – the time to act is now.”