Community mental health care in Tower Hamlets is set to be radically transformed thanks to a major cash boost announced today by NHS England.
North East London is one of 12 sites across England set to receive a slice of the £70 million investment from the NHS transformation fund, to which Tower Hamlets belongs.
In line with the NHS Long Term Plan, launched in January, the aim is to dissolve the boundaries between primary and secondary mental health care and to ensure that people with severe mental illness can access better care closer to home.
Working with local authorities, voluntary sector organisations and primary care, East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) will be piloting this new and integrated model of care in Newham, Hackney, Tower Hamlets and the City of London.
Under the new approach, new multidisciplinary, multi-agency mental health teams will now transform the way care is delivered.
The new teams will include psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, peer support workers and community connectors working in partnership with primary care clinicians, social prescribers, clinical pharmacists and community health services to ensure that people’s care is holistically managed.
These teams will provide wraparound support for people with varying levels of need, including those with longer-term and complex requirements; and will be tailored to meet the needs of local populations.
The transformation will truly integrate primary and secondary care to enable GPs and specialist mental health teams to work more closely and to ensure people receive appropriate care within four weeks of initial contact with the NHS.
People in Tower Hamlets with moderate to severe mental illnesses will benefit from improved access to psychological therapies (talking therapies), improved physical health care, employment support (individual placement and support), personalised and trauma-informed care, medicines management and support for self-harm and coexisting substance misuse.
They will also be supported to connect into the range of community-based activities locally that promote good mental wellbeing, empowering them to build on their own strengths and potential through music, fitness, arts or other social based activities.
Alongside this they will receive more support with the issues in life that can trigger mental health problems, such as unemployment, housing, and financial worries.
The announcement forms part of a commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to drastically improve the availability and quality of mental health services across England. New funding for mental health care nationally is set to rise to almost £1billion extra per year by 2023/24.
Announcing the funding, Claire Murdoch, NHS National Director for Mental Health, said: “We have ensured that the largest proportion of the £2.3 billion settlement for mental health, secured in the Long Term Plan, will be to stabilise, bolster and ultimately transform community mental health services for adults and older adults, making sure that our services are able to give people the help they need to get better and stay well.”
On learning that the funding bid had been accepted, Jane Milligan, Accountable Officer for the NHS clinical commissioning groups across all three boroughs said:
“The announcement of this funding is great news for east London, and particularly for those living in our area who require support from mental health care services.
“The life expectancy of people with severe mental illnesses can be up to 20 years lower than the general population, and that’s why improving the care and support available at a local level is a key priority for us and our partners in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.
"Together with colleagues at ELFT, our local GPs and the local voluntary sector, this funding gives us a great opportunity to share good practice across all of north east London, transform community mental health services in our area and shape the way care is delivered nationally over the next decade.”
ELFT Chief Executive Dr Navina Evans said: “I am extremely proud of my colleagues at ELFT and at the East London Health & Care Partnership in working collaboratively to secure this important funding from NHS England.
“For the first time ever, primary care networks will be empowered to support people holistically. People will be supported to achieve their life goals, beyond the narrow remit of a mental health care plan alone.
“This is genuinely transforming the way we deliver health care.”