Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced plans that will see 21,000 more mental health workers recruited over the next five years. It is hoped the move will help to treat an extra one million patients by 2021 through a recruitment drive for nurses, therapists and allied healthcare workers.

Having committed £1.3bn to improving mental health services and integrate mental and physical health services for the first time, some, including the Royal College of Nursing, question whether the policy adds up.

“We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff. We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future.”.

Jeremy Hunt

What exactly does the plan propose?

The plan sets out several measures including:

  • A national retention programme to be run by NHS employers
  • A major campaign led by Health Education England (HEE) to encourage those who are trained with the skills needed but not perhaps recruited by NHS to return to the profession
  • Considering new methods to attract more clinicians to mental health services, either through a 2-week taster programme or increasing availability of rotation placements
  • Developing new roles in mental health to boost flexibility and increase capacity

Improving workforce planning

While the announcement has been largely well-received, there needs to be a well-planned approach to this project and both the current and future workforce of this field are key to its success.

Jeremy Hunt recognises this and said: “We want people with mental health conditions to receive better treatment, and part of that means having the right NHS staff. We know we need to do much more to attract, retain and support the mental health workforce of the future.”.

It is reassuring to see that the government has identified those delivering care will need to be supported in order to provide the high quality care he envisions. HEE will deliver a programme and support trusts to improve the mental health and resilience of its own workforce.

Will this be enough?

This funding boost will certainly help to support and improve the current condition of the mental health service but many are asking about the long-term sustainability of such a project. With mental health awareness on the increase, more and more individuals are likely to seek help for their own mental health.  

With changing roles and current recruitment challenges, Randstad recognises the importance of having access to a pool of candidates that possess specialist skills and are ready to work. With a network of nine offices across the UK and qualified mental health workers authorised and available immediately, get in touch with your local specialist teams to discuss how we can support your service users.