The number of approved mental health rofessionals, the practitioners authorised to carry out Mental Health Act assessments, continues to shrink, research by Community Care shows.
A Freedom of Information request to local authorities also highlights a continuing failure to make the AMHP workforce more professionally diverse by bringing in more non social workers, one of the main reasons for the creation of the role to replace that of the approved social worker (ASW) in 2008.
Community Care received 102 responses from England’s 152 local authorities to its FOI. The number of warranted AMHPs – those qualified and warranted by local authorities to carry out Mental Health Act assessments among other duties – fell by 2.5%, from 2,174 at 1 April 2016 to 2,120 at 30 September 2017, across the 91 councils which supplied data for both dates.
This is a smaller decline than Community Care last reported – of 7% from 2013/14 to 2015/16 across 120 councils – and the latest FOI shows that the situation varies across the country.
From 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2017, 32 councils reported a rise in their number of warranted AMHPs, 42 reported a decrease and the numbers stayed the same in 17. In many cases the changes were minor.
Only one psychologist and nine occupational therapists across the 102 local authorities which responded to Community Care’s FOI are warranted AMHPs, and about 95% are social workers.
Community Care’s special report on AMHPs examines the FOI findings in more detail, including the failure to bring more nurses, occupational therapists and psychologists into the AMHP workforce, and possible solutions.
AMHPs: The picture today
Find out more about how recruitment and training problems are impacting the AMHP workforce.
Read the experience of local authorities and how some are trying to alleviate the pressure.
Recruitment and retention
Reports sent by local authorities in response to Community Care’s FOI request also highlight the reasons behind the ongoing challenge of recruitment and retention of AMHPs, including:
- The ageing AMHP workforce and retirements, leading to vacancies;
- Decline in community mental health services, meaning other avenues of support are not fully explored and increasing the pressure on AMHPs;
- Long working days for daytime workers which extend into the evenings due to lack of ambulance availability, delays in ensuring safe conveyancing, a lack of local beds, and more doctors becoming available to attend incidents later in the day;
- AMHPs accumulating a large amount of time off in lieu as demand for assessments and the day-to-day operational challenges involved cannot be managed within core hours;
- The loss of some AMHPs to become independent social workers, due to the amount of work available doing Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards assessments.
AMHP numbers – rises and falls
Community Care highlights the largest rises and biggest drops in AMHP numbers between 1 April 2016 and 30 September 2017 across the local authorities who responded to our Freedom of Information request.
Councils with the largest increases in warranted AMHPs
225% – Bedford
55% – Bexley
40% – Gateshead
31% – East Riding
27% – Middlesborough
Councils with the largest decreases in warranted AMHPs
41% – Somerset
40% – Barking
36% – Medway
33% – Southwark
31% – Cambridgeshire