King’s Fund: Labour’s 13-year mental health record falls short

Labour's record on mental health services is mixed, according to a King's Fund review of its 13 years in power.

Labour’s record on mental health services is mixed, according to a King’s Fund review of its 13 years in power.

The think tank praised the fact that suicide had fallen to historically low levels and said specialist services for people with severe mental health problems, introduced under the 1999 National Service Framework, had had success.

Crisis resolution teams had reduced hospital admissions as had early intervention in psychosis teams, while assertive outreach services had been more effective than standard community teams in engaging hard-to-reach groups.

However, it found no evidence to suggest that these improvements had translated into better clinical outcomes for service users.

The King’s Fund also expressed concern that the National Audit Office had concluded that the national dementia strategy “lacks the mechanisms to bring about large-scale improvements”.

The think tank also found that the introduction of graduate primary care mental health workers to assess and treat people with less severe problems within general practice had been limited by problems with training, supervision arrangements and retention.

It acknowledged that the government was addressing “poor” access to talking therapies for people with depression through its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, which has increased spending by £173m a year from 2008-11.

The think tank said it was too early to determine effectiveness, though the initial evidence suggested the new services were offering effective treatments for anxiety and depression.

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