Cash and charter for mental health services

The charter sets out standards of services for people with
mental health problems. These include:

* patients referred for assessment can expect to be seen within
four weeks and informed of the outcome within two weeks;

* patients needing continuing care outside hospital will not be
discharged from hospital until appropriate care arrangements are in
place; and

* patients have right to receive information on local mental
health services.

Consultation ends at the end of April.An extra £95 million
is to be pumped into mental health services in a package of
government measures to improve care in the community.

Health authorities will spend an extra £53 million on
mental health services in 1996-7. As announced in November the
mental illness specific grant will be increased by £20
million; £11 million for 1996-7 and £9 million in

Of this £20 million, £13.5 million will go to local
authorities the Department of Health decides most need to improve
services for mentally ill people. £4.5 million will go to the
existing grants programme, and £2 million to the homeless
mentally ill initiative.

The Mental Health Challenge Fund, also announced in November,
will receive £20 million to match health authorities
commitments to improved mental health services pound for pound.

The Department of Health was last week forced to admit that,
despite government’s insistence that health authorities meet the
care programme approach by the end of the year, an NHS Executive
review found one-third will take until 1997 to set standards in

But junior health minister John Bowis said: ‘We should not give
a dismal picture – there are some excellent services.’

Health authorities not on schedule were urged to develop close
working relationships with local authorities, particularly those
affected by local government reorganisation.

* Review of purchasing of mental health services by health
authorities in England from Department of Health, PO Box 410,
Wetherby LS23 7LN.’This is yet another Tory confidence trick. The
victims of this government policy failure are the mentally ill
people who don’t get the care they need and the families of those
with mental illness who struggle to care without adequate

Harriet Harman, shadow health secretary

‘The real need is not for greater controls over patients and new
charters but a range of support like crisis services, proper
housing and employment. Community care should never have been
allowed to amount to a bed and breakfast place with a

Judi Clements, director of MIND

‘We remain desperately concerned about the continuing loss of
psychiatric beds, the shortage of trained staff and the
fragmentation of services.’

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANEMENTAL HEALTH PATIENT’S

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