Headlines: July 15th, 2010

The Government is being urged to ensure that mental health does not lose out in its plans to reform the NHS. The charity, Mind, said the litmus test of the new-look service would be whether or not it met the needs of people with mental health problems.

Mind is hoping patient involvement and choice will be at the heart of the reforms, which promise patients and doctors a bigger role with GP practices joining forces to commission treatment. An independent Commissioning Board will oversee the new regime, with local councils taking over the public health element of the work currently done by Primary Care Trusts.

The reforms have been broadly welcomed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services who see the proposed changes as consistent with the idea of adult social care, public health and integrated health services sitting at the heart of local communities.

Paul Farmer, the chief executive of Mind, said that historically mental health services had been a soft target or sidelined in structural shake-ups. “As the Government develops its proposals for mental health, we hope it will put patient involvement and choice at the heart of these plans,” he said. Giving commissioning powers to GPs created an opportunity for them to develop mental health services which would meet local needs and give patients choice but he added: “However, GPs currently lack the specialist mental health knowledge and training to understand the complexities of mental health commissioning.”