More choice in mental health

Better mental health care
Published on Thursday, 13 December 2012 12:21
Posted by Scott Buckler

For the first time, people who use mental health services will get more choice about where and how they get their condition treated in the NHS

This is a part of a number of measures put forward by the Department of Health to give more patients more involvement, greater control and choice over their care.

Currently people who need mental health services are not able to make the same choices about their care and treatment as those who use other health services. But the response to the No Decision About Me, Without Me consultation outlines how they will are able to choose from any provider in England when they are referred for treatment from April 2014.

The Government's Mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board makes clear the commitment to giving mental health equal importance with physical health, in all relevant aspects of the NHS. Giving people more choice over who provides their mental health care is a step towards this.

Care Minister Norman Lamb said:

"If any group of patients could benefit from being empowered by taking control of their own care, it is people with mental illness. Today's announcement is a further step to make sure they have more choice, more control and more information about their care.

"We've made it clear in the past that their can be no health without mental health, and that we expect the NHS to place as much emphasis on people's mental health as on their physical health needs. By giving patients more choice in their care, we are making sure they get the right type of high quality mental health care at the right time, which suits them and their needs."

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said:

"We welcome today's announcement that people with mental health problems will be given the same right to choose who provides their care as those with physical health problems. This is a real step forward in making the Government's commitment to giving mental health parity of esteem with physical health in the NHS a reality.

"Many people tell Mind that too often they feel they aren't listened to or respected by their mental health professional, so allowing people to choose their consultant should improve quality of care. However, we know that choice over the type of treatment you receive and involvement in joint care planning are also critical to a person's recovery, so we need to see these become common practice to improve people's experience of care.

"We are pleased to see the Government has pledged to look at access standards for mental health, acknowledging that people are still waiting far too long for essential mental health treatments. We look forward to working with the Government to address this."

Today's announcement also outlines more steps to inform patients about the choices they have in their health care, including:

  • Individual care plans – which will act as a written agreement between patients and their GP on what decisions were made about their care. Patients will be able to hold their doctor to account if they don't receive the care they agreed to.
  • Introduction of a Choice Framework – which will set out simply for patients the different choices they have around their care, including choosing GP practice, choosing where to go for your first appointment as an outpatient and a choice of consultant who will be in charge of their treatment
  • A digital map showing the community services where there will be a choice of provider locally, and a list of organisations that have qualified to provide these services to date. The map shows the community and mental health services that have been selected to extend choice following local engagement with patients and doctors, having met rigorous standards.

Health Minister Lord Howe said:

"Giving patients more choice and more control in their healthcare is an essential part of the Government's work to put the NHS on the side of patients.

"No two people are the same, which is why our plans offer patients more personalised care, ensuring that no decision about me is made without me. I would like to thank the people who took part in the consultation, to help us build a strong set of proposals to give more involvement and more choice to patients."


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