The NHS is to map the workforce of mental health social work to enable employers to benchmark themselves and shape investment in new staff.
The NHS Benchmarking Network, which provides data to inform employers’ workforce and service planning, has launched surveys to develop a comprehensive picture of the mental health social work and peer support workforces, commissioned by Health Education England.
The social work survey asks NHS, local authority and independent sector employers of mental health practitioners for information on workforce numbers, including the number of approved mental health professionals and best interests assessors, demographics and employment status.
It also asks for information on what mental health social workers in their organisations do, for example, the number of Mental Health Act, Care Act, deprivation of liberty or mental capacity assessments they carried out, as well as the number of face-to-face and non-face-to-face contacts they undertook, in 2018-19.
Plan for 600 social workers
The survey comes with NHS England having announced plans to recruit 600 more social workers into mental health services by 2023-24 to help it deliver on the NHS Long Term Plan.
The developments are likely to result in the development of new roles for mental health practitioners, sector leaders told Community Care last year.
This is part of a planned additional £2.3bn a year investment in mental health by 2023-24 to ensure the NHS provides mental healthcare to two million more people.
A letter accompanying the survey, from representatives from Health Education England, the NHS Benchmarking Network and Mark Trewin, mental health social work lead at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “The information you provide us with as part of this exercise will assist us to build a comprehensive profile of the Social Worker, Approved Mental Health Professionals, and
Peer Support Worker workforce, that can be used to develop evidence-based plans for the future workforce needs across mental health services.
“This work takes place in the context of the planned substantial investment into mental health services…”
On Twitter, Trewin set out the importance of the project:
Very pleased to be able to support and commission this vital work from @NHSBenchmarking. Mental Health Social Worker and Peer Support workers have a really important role in mental health services and this will give us the data and information we need to support them.
— Mark Trewin (@markybt) January 14, 2020
The data should be sent back by 10 February to the benchmarking network.