Responding to the new National Audit Office (NAO) report on the progress in improving mental health services, Sean Duggan chief executive of the mental health network at the NHS Confederation, said:
“Healthcare leaders and their teams have been working flat out under extreme pressure and against a backdrop of thousands of staff vacancies to ensure patients get the care they need.
“This report highlights the progress that has been made in transforming mental health services and serves to show how investment can reap reward, however it also points to the ongoing challenges.
“Demand is still spiralling and the knock-on effects of the pandemic on the mental health of the population still continue to reverberate with services severely stretched. With around 1.5 million people on the mental health waiting list, the government must continue to fulfil its commitment to increase mental health staffing numbers in its promised, and long overdue NHS workforce plan.
“This rising demand has also meant that the movement towards parity of esteem in mental health services has been hindered. On this issue, healthcare leaders would welcome clarity from the centre on what achieving full parity of esteem should look like as well as a clear roadmap for how to get there. Without this, health service leaders simply cannot measure the progress made in mental health services against that in physical healthcare.”