Responding to the publication of the NHS Mental Health Implementation Plan 2019/20 – 2023/24, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, which is part of the NHS Confederation, said:

“The ambitious vision of the NHS Long Term Plan provides a further step change for mental health services, with more people able to access treatment and more specialised services.

“The Implementation Plan now gives us a clear route to living that vision. There is much to welcome, not least the roll-out of a Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework and clarity on opportunities for voluntary, community and social enterprises to lead in the delivery and implementation of services.

“However, the timescales are tight for planning in the first year and we must be careful, too, about being too prescriptive. Ultimately, we believe the best approach is to empower local leaders to use their knowledge to drive these improvements and do what works best in their areas.

“Workforce remains a worry – it is good news that local areas will be more involved in developing their workforce but, with mental health services suffering from particularly high vacancy rates, we will need to see support from the centre.

“And we must acknowledge that mental health services cannot succeed in a vacuum. Mental health services must work in partnership with other parts of the system, with mental health being threaded throughout STP and ICS plans.

“Importantly, investment is needed in the wider health and care system – including in social care, capital, public health and supported housing – if the vision of the Long Term Plan is to be achieved.”