Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announces huge NHS recruitment plan for mental health care, including 21,000 nurses

Jeremy Hunt has announced an NHS expansion plan for mental health services that will see thousands of new posts created from Monday (July 31).

The Health Secretary said the aim was to treat an extra one million people by 2021 under one of the biggest boosts to mental health care in Europe.

The plan will cost £1.3 billion and provide 24/7 services that will properly integrate mental and physical health services for the first time, according to the South West Surrey MP.

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He said on Sunday (July 31): “As we embark on one of the biggest expansions of mental health services in Europe it is crucial we have the right people in post- that’s why we’re supporting those already in the profession to stay and giving incentives to those considering a career in mental health.

“These measure are ambitious but essential for delivering the high performing and well-resourced mental health services we all want to see.”

However, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has questioned whether enough people could be trained in such a short time period and if there are enough resources available to achieve this.

RCN’s chief executive Janet Davies said: “The government’s policies appear not to add up.

“If these nurses were going to be ready in time, they would be starting training next month.

“But we have seen that the withdrawal of the bursary has led to a sharp fall in university applications and we are yet to see funding for additional places.

“There is already a dangerous lack of workforce planning and accountability and this report is unable to provide detail on how the ambitions will be met.”

Jeremy Hunt says the plans are ambitious but essential

The proposal has been met by criticism from political candidate and GP Dr Louise Irvine.

The National Health Action Party candidate in the last two general elections has question the Health Secretary’s calculations on the issue.

The move will see 2,000 additional nurses, consultants and therapist posts created in child and adolescent mental health services.

And 2,900 additional therapists will help adult talking services, with 4,800 extra nurses and therapists in crisis care settings.

Retaining staff and encouraging some of the 4,000 psychiatrists and 30,000 trained mental health nurses not substantively employed by the NHS to return to the profession will form a major part of the drive.

The number of trained nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, peer support workers and other mental health professionals will be “dramatically” increased with 21,000 new posts under the plan, according to the Health Department.

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