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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Economic Downturn:
what does the recession mean for mental health services?

When the UK economy officially entered a recession in January 2009, it was recognised that demand for mental health services would probably increase (as a result of unemployment, personal debt, home reposession, and other forms of 'economic fallout').  However, this period also coincided with the start of a period of funding cuts and disinvestment across the NHS, which was posed significant challenges for those commissioning, providing, and using services.

The RCPsych response
This situation resulted in two pieces of work:

Firstly, in 2009, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the NHS Confederation's Mental Health Network, and the London School of Economics and Political Science produced a report on the recession and its:

  • implications for mental health services over the short, medium and long-term;
  • how disinvestment can be mitigated and managed accross mental health services in a context where demand for care will probably increase;
  • identify priorities for mental health service provision which need to be defended and retained;
  • outline strategies for achieving prediced efficieny savings without hitting vulnerable patients and their needs.

Secondly, in 2010
, in collaboration with the Kings Fund, the Centre for Mental Health, and the NHS Confederation, a report was released on Mental Health and the Productivity Challenge, which examined how mental health services could be delivered in a more cost-effective manner in an economically difficult period. 

This report can be downloaded here via the Kings Fund website.

Thirdly, in 2011, the College is currently working with other leading organisations with an interest in mental health on how the current and future commissioning of services for mental health and wellbeing can be achieved with optimum health and efficiency outcomes.   An announcement will be made later in 2011 about this work, but further details on the College's response to the English Health and Social Care Bill can be found here.


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