Government failing nation’s mental health with rejection of workforce amendment

Press release
27 April 2022

The Government’s Health and Care Bill passed the House of Lords yesterday without a vital amendment on workforce planning after it was rejected by MPs earlier this week.

The amendment to the Health and Care Bill would have required the Secretary of State to report every two years:

  • an independent assessment of health and social care workforce numbers, current at the time of publication, and the projected workforce supply for the following five, ten and 15 years
  • an independent assessment of future health and social care workforce numbers based on the projected health and care needs of the population for the following five, ten and 15 years, taking account of the Office for Budget Responsibility long-term fiscal projections.

This comes despite a strong campaign by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and over 100 other organisations, with Baroness Merron, shadow spokesperson for Health and Social Care, arguing that meaningful workforce planning could not take place without this mandated forecasting.

Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“The nation’s mental health relies on long-term workforce planning. This amendment would have increased transparency and accountability on whether we are training enough doctors, nurses and social care staff to meet future demand.

“People are waiting much longer than they should for mental health treatment. More than 1.4 million people are waiting for specialist mental health support because of chronic staff shortages in every psychiatric specialty across the country. One in 10 consultant psychiatrist posts in England are vacant because successive governments have failed to properly plan ahead.

“We cannot continue to sweep this issue under the carpet. The government must act urgently on the issue of staffing in mental health care. Failure to properly plan ahead will further strain an already-stretched workforce, resulting in longer waiting times and worse outcomes for those struggling with their mental health.”

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