The health secretary has said thousands more mental health workers are to be recruited by the NHS in England.
The £1.3 billion pound drive is promised to increase the number of nurses, therapists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to treat an extra one million people and provide services seven days a week.
Jeremy Hunt has promised to end the “historic imbalance” between mental and physical health services. He went on to say that the measures were “ambitious” and amounted to “one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe”.
The aim is to recruit enough nurses and support staff to treat an extra one million patients by 2020-21 but with over 30,000 current NHS vacancies unions are critical as to where these staff will come from.
Professor Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who helped develop the plan, said; “You would expect to see a consultant if you had cancer and the same applies for mental health. The biggest challenge to creating robust mental health services is the workforce. I am very supportive of this strategy which starts to tackle that problem.”
However, the Royal College of Nursing said the plans did not add up, and more “hard cash” would be needed if the new staff were to be trained in time.
“If these nurses were going to be ready in time, they would be starting training next month,” said RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies.