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NHS to increase mental health staff number

Jeremy Hunt said it was time to end the historic imbalance between mental and physical health services.

The aim is to recruit enough nurses, therapists and consultants to treat an extra one million patients by 2020-21. But the Royal College of Nursing said the plans did not add up, and more "hard cash" would be needed if the new staff were to be trained in time. The government said an extra £1bn already promised for mental health services in England would fund the scheme - part of a pot of £1.3bn committed in 2016 to transform provision. These plans set out how some of that money will be spent - mostly on recruiting staff, with the main focus being on child and adolescent mental health services, therapists delivering talking therapies for adults and nurses working in crisis care. The plans also include improving staff training, encouraging those who have left the profession to return, and addressing a high dropout rate among trainees. However, data published last week showed that even before this latest recruitment drive, many thousands of nursing posts remain unfilled.

The plans include: 2,000 more nurses, consultants and therapist posts in child and adolescent mental health services 2,900 additional therapists and health professionals supporting adult talking therapies 4,800 additional posts for nurses and therapists working in crisis care settings more mental health support for women around the time they give birth and early intervention teams working with people at risk of psychosis Mr Hunt said: "We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff. "We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future - today is the first step to address this historic imbalance in workforce planning." Mr Hunt said the measures were "ambitious" and amounted to "one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe". However, Labour's shadow minister for mental health, Barbara Keeley, said the government was "promising only jam tomorrow, when what is needed is action today". "The workforce plan provides no real answers on how these new posts will be funded or how recruitment issues will be overcome," she added. "And it offers little hope to those working in the sector faced with mounting workloads, low pay and poor morale." Claire Murdoch, national mental health director at NHS England, said the plan was not just about numbers. "It's about having a motivated and skilled workforce in place to deliver the work we need to do."

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