Has the penny finally dropped? Or is this just more madwash? The Mental Health Taskforce report & response

15 Feb

Five Year Forward Mental Health plan cover


Today, the report of the independent mental health taskforce, led by Paul Farmer of Mind, was launched. It contains a good summary of the crushing problems faced by people with mental health problems and those in the NHS who try to help us, together with a five year plan for mental health services; in response, there is a government commitment to spend ‘£1 billion a year by 2020/21’, though more on that below. Having experienced ongoing cuts to historically underfunded mental health services, it is no surprise to those of us who use or work in them that services are in a dreadfully poor state and that lives are being blighted and even lost as a result. Cuts have continued to be made to mental health services despite a commitment from government to ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health services as CCGs to whom funding decisions are devolved continue to prioritise other areas of healthcare. None of this is news to us; we could have told government that for free without the need to set up yet another commission or review or taskforce. But at least these types of things quantify the scale of the problem: they reduce plausible deniability about the scale of the problem faced and the dreadful reality of the lives of those of us with mental health problems who are brutalised and/or neglected by services – or lack thereof.

Following the report’s launch, so far it seems that, amongst those of us who use or work in or have experience of mental health services, the skepticism is high that this will lead to action that will make a difference to our lives. And for good reason.

Only last month, prime minister David Cameron enjoyed favourable headlines across the mainstream media for promising ‘£1 billion of new money’ for mental health services. However, even before he had made that announcement, the Department of Health had confirmed that there was, in fact, no new money. Instead, it was simply a reannouncement of money that had already been announced but not yet spent – but it seemed only Channel 4 news picked that up,  leaving the spin largely unchallenged. The fact the was no new money was later confirmed in a parlimentary answer. It seemed more of a political announcement than a commitment to improve our lives. Now the claim appears to be that there will not only be £1 billion of ‘new’ money but £1 billion of new money every year until 2020/21.

However, it is both hard to quantify that claim and to hold the government to account for its promises. In 2013, the government abolished the national survey on spending on mental health services, just at the point it showed the first drop in spending for the first time in a decade. NHS England has confirmed that there is to be no injection of cash into the NHS for the extra ‘£1 billion per year’ for mental health services; and NHS England has provided no breakdown whatsoever of where this ‘£1 billion per year’ will be spent, nor when, nor how. Both of these facts make it hard to hold government to account on its promises. On the face of it, £1 billion is simply be the amount mental health services would get of the additional £8 billion promised in the run-up to the election for the NHS if the proportion of spend were to be around 12% as it is currently.

But, whether or not the ‘£1 billion per year’ is new or recycled money, there has been an awful lot promised for that money; wherever it comes from, it’s going to have to stretch a very long way indeed, even given the limited aspirations of the taskforce report. The fundamental problem in mental health services is decades of underfunding followed by recent cuts. The key issue is money, and there is no new money.

Mental Health Taskforce Sarah Wollaston (2)

Watch this space for clarification of the money side of the report and analysis of it.

For a quick overview, read these 3 pieces:

Scroll down for more links. Throughout the day, I’ll be uploading links to pieces I spot that analyse the report. Please let me know if there are othes to add.

Mental Health Taskforce report Andy McNicholl (1)

Mental Health Taskforce report Prof L Appleby (1)

Mental Health Taskforce report Insp Michael Brown (1)

Mental Health Taskforce Ermintrude1 (1)Mental Health Taskforce Andy Bell (1)

Mental Health Taskforce Stephen Weatherhead (1)

Mental Health Taskforce Shaun Lintern (2)

Mental Health Taskforce Daniel Reynolds (1)

Mental Health Taskforce John Appleby Kings Fund (1)

Mental Health Taskforce report Andy McNicholl (3)

Mental Health Taskforce Jonny Benjamin (1)

Mental Health Taskforce Jonny Benjamin (2)






Web links thumbnail


The report

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health -A report from the independent Mental Health Taskforce to the NHS in England (15 February 2016)


Government announcements


Mental health organisations


Announcements by other organisations


Mainstream media






3 Responses to “Has the penny finally dropped? Or is this just more madwash? The Mental Health Taskforce report & response”

  1. Ed 16 February 2016 at 9:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on HolyBatSex!.

  2. justweirdenough 21 February 2016 at 5:51 pm #

    Reblogged this on mentalshapesblog and commented:
    The NHS and mental health mix like oil and water. MPs need to get their act together.


  1. Has the penny finally dropped? Or is this just more madwash? The Mental Health Taskforce report | Benefit tales - 15 February 2016

    […] Source: Has the penny finally dropped? Or is this just more madwash? The Mental Health Taskforce report […]

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