We, the UKCP, and other leading professional bodies have today condemned the Government and Health Education England for not collaborating on their recent publication Stepping Forward to 2020/21: Mental Health Workforce Plan for England – released at the end of July.
We expressed our concern at the time, and now we are uniting with the British Psychological Society, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Association of Social Workers and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in a letter to Health Education England (HEE) and Jeremy Hunt.
Together, we are requesting that HEE and the Government engage and collaborate with all professions and experts from the wider mental health workforce to ensure the best outcomes for service users.
You can read the full letter here and below.
Professor Ian Cumming, CEO, HEE
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director, NHS
cc: Right Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, Lynne Hall, Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Alan Ryan
16 August 2017
Dear Professor Ian Cumming and Claire Murdoch,
We, the undersigned, would like collectively to express our concern regarding the recent publication Stepping Forward to 2020/21: Mental Health Workforce Plan for England.
While we very much welcome the focus on the mental health workforce, we do not think that, as drafted, it can be helpful for commissioners given the focus on psychiatry and the lack of evidence from Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), psychologists, psychological therapists and social workers. We would like to begin to work collaboratively with you to drive forward workforce development in this area.
Recommendation 32 within the 5YFV for mental health stated that: HEE should work with NHS England, PHE, the Local Government Association and local authorities, professional bodies, charities, experts-by-experience and others to develop a costed, multi-disciplinary workforce strategy for the future shape and skill mix of the workforce required to deliver both this strategy and the workforce recommendations set out in Future in Mind. This must report by no later than 2016.
A draft of this strategy was produced in December 2016 by HEE, in collaboration with representatives from some professional bodies and other stakeholders. This was then sent out for a wider consultation, however, the way this was done was inadequate both in terms of distribution and timescale.
Subsequently, that document, and the collaborative input and consultation responses which accompanied it, has been replaced in favour of one which excludes the majority of professional bodies, charities and experts-by-experience.
We are concerned over the transparency of the production process when the advisory group working on the original document, including many representatives from the wider mental health workforce was apparently disbanded without notice and without further consultation following the draft document from December. Indeed even this working group did not originally include all relevant professional bodies.
As you are aware, the mental health workforce is vastly broader that just psychiatry, important though it is to our field. We believe opportunities have been and will be missed to develop and deliver the best quality services by ignoring the wider workforce. All but one profession has effectively been excluded in the completion of this document which will be influencing the workforce of the NHS in England and, by extension the mental health of the public over the next several years. We have expertise each in different areas, all of which are important to help the NHS to deliver an optimum service for mental health. For example, we could offer information about what “intelligently re-think skill mix” might look like and a steer for commissioners about AHP, Psychologist and other consultants.
The negative effect on people in England of focussing on a small section of the mental health workforce and setting aside the considerable contribution also made by other sections of the workforce will be great. We would urge HEE and the NHS to engage and collaborate with all professions and experts from the wider mental health workforce moving forward to ensure the strategy provides an accurate and agreed reflection of their potential contribution and provides the best outcomes for service users. We are happy to provide information to help set this out.
We look forward to your response, and would welcome, as a first step, offers of meetings with the relevant professional bodies to take this forward.
Janet Weisz, Chief Executive Officer, UK Council for Psychotherapy
Dr Ruth Allen, Chief Executive Officer, British Association of Social Workers
Derek Munn, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Nicola Gale President, British Psychological Society
Nancy Rowland, Deputy Chief Executive, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy