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Implementing the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health

The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health is a single programme, but one which contains numerous different, related elements across the health system for all ages. Whilst the vision for improving mental health and wellbeing is wider, this implementation plan focuses primarily on the role of the NHS in delivering its commitments and is directed at commissioners and providers to support and influence their own local plans. However, this blueprint also gives a clear indication to the public and people who use services of what they should expect from the NHS, and when.

Delivery of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health is underpinned by significant additional funding, and this plan sets out in detail where and when this money wil lbecome available. However, this is not the only investment in mental health services. This new money builds on both the foundation of existing local investment in mental health services and the ongoing requirement – repeated in the 2016/17 NHS planning guidance – to increase that baseline by at least the overall growth in allocations. Additional funding should not be seen in isolation and should not be used to supplant existing spend or balance reductions elsewhere.

As the plan makes clear in a number of areas, successful implementation of the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health is dependent upon establishing services which are sustainable for the long-term. That sustainability is predicated on evidence which shows the savings realised across the health and care system outweigh the investment needed to deliver services. In order to ensure that this fundamental economic case is met, it will be critical for local organisations to agree how they will share both the costs of investment and the proceeds of savings and efficiencies – including how savings will be identified, especially where they accrue in other areas of the health system, and reinvested into mental health services. The development of Sustainability and Transformation Plans provides the opportunity to agree an approach between partners to achieve this aim.

There are many objectives and commitments in this plan which deliver improved access to high-quality care, more integrated services and earlier interventions. A common theme across many objectives is of building capacity within community-based services to reduce demand and release capacity from the acute sector and in-patient beds – whilst in parallel moving the commissioning model for in-patient beds in mental health towards a more ‘place-based’ approach so that pathways and incentives are better aligned and efficiencies more readily realised.

The journey to fully transform mental health services – as the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health said – should be thought of as longer than a five-year programme. This roadmap prioritises objectives for delivery by 2020/21 and therefore describes the next stages in that journey.