Wanless to lead extensive inquiry into cost of mental health care

Derek Wanless is to chair a wide-ranging review of the future cost of mental health care, commissioned by the King’s Fund.

Ten months after Wanless produced a similar report for the health think-tank on older people’s social care, he will lead an inquiry that will seek to estimate the number of people with mental disorders and the expenditure required to treat them between 2007 and 2026.

The remit of the review, which is expected to report in the autumn, will be “very broad”, and cover children and adolescents as well as adults. It will examine NHS and social care costs and the cost of mental illness on areas such as housing, education and criminal justice.

Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry are expected to estimate what finanial gains might be made from providing more evidence-based services and possible technological advances in mental health care.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Andrew McCulloch said the review would be significant if it covered early intervention work with children, the cost of dementia and the benefits of mental health promotion.

Andy Bell, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health’s public affairs director, said: “Big inquiries can have a big impact. It is important that the voice of mental health is heard alongside the other big spending priorities.”

A report published by the centre last week suggested spending on mental health would need to rise by 50 per cent by 2011 and staff numbers by 40 per cent if the government was to implement its policy commitments in full.

The report said spending was “likely to increase to £6bn by 2010-11 but would need to rise to £7.5bn. Some 4,000 more medical staff and nearly 20,000 more qualified nurses would be required to meet the ambitions of the government’s national service framework.”

Expert with financial nous
The former banker is perhaps the country’s leading authority on health and social care expenditure.

His 2002 Treasury-commissioned report on future demand for health care paved the way for a massive increase in NHS funding.

His 2006 social care report, which called for increased investment to meet rising demand, is cited widely in the current funding debate. Its influence will become clear in this summer’s comprehensive spending review.

Further information
Delivering the Government’s Mental Health Policies
Mental Health

Contact the author
 Simeon Brody


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