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Mental health chief welcomes new standards

The chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk's NHS mental health trust has today welcomed news of Government plans to invest in improving waiting times for patients.

New standards for mental health services have been announced today by NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens and Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg as part of Achieving Better Access to Mental Health Services by 2020, a five-year ambition that will see new access and waiting times standards introduced, helping to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health services. 
Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Michael Scott welcomed the announcement as a positive step but sounded a note of caution about the need for improved funding for mental health services.

Michael Scott said: "This announcement helps put mental health on more of an even footing with NHS services for physical health but we know that funding for mental health has been falling over recent years. The introduction of new waiting time standards will help improve services and, hopefully, bring greater clarity about the need for fairer funding for NHS mental health services." 
The new standards to be  introduced from 1 April 2015, will be:

  • 75 per cent of people referred for talking therapies for treatment of common mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, will start their treatment within six weeks and 95 per cent will start within 18 weeks; and

  • at least 50 per cent of people experiencing their first episode of psychosis will get NICE-approved help within two weeks of being referred.


NHS England will invest a further £120 million over the next two years on improving mental health services, including an immediate  £40 million this year to build capacity in some priority areas to meet new access and waiting time standards from next year.  ​