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Old problems, new solutions

Two significant reports on mental health were published in February 2016: The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health by the independent Mental Health Taskforce and Old Problems; Old Problems New Solutions: Improving Acute Psychiatric Care for Adults in England by the Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care. Each made recommendations for how commissioners and providers of mental health care can improve services.

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health was produced by the Mental Health Taskforce commissioned by Simon Stevens following the publication of the Five Year Forward View (FYFV) in October 2014. It sets out a 10-year vision to improve the mental health of children, young people, working-age adults and older people complemented by a list of recommendations for the government, the NHS and its associated arm’s-length bodies (ALBs). It identifies a need for an additional £1 billion in 2020/21 of funding for mental health which will generate savings in the long run and recommends the creation of a Mental Health Advisory Board which will report to the FYFV Board and publicly update on progress of transformation.

Old Problems, New Solutions was published by the independent Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care chaired by Lord Nigel Crisp and set up by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in January 2015 in response to widespread concerns about the provision of acute inpatient psychiatric beds in many parts of England and Northern Ireland. The report finds that the acute mental health system is under pressure and access to acute care for severely ill adult mental health patients is inadequate and at times ‘potentially dangerous’. Amongst recommendations it acknowledges that good work is being done but as the title suggests, the problems mental health care faces are longstanding and it is time to implement new solutions.