We’re calling for more detail to be released on a planned investment in the mental health workforce, following the publication of the NHS People Plan.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced the long-awaited plan, which looks at recruitment and retention of NHS staff, and the support available to them. It sets out a list of principles and practical actions that will be taken over the rest of 2020 to 2021.

Much of the detail focuses on the response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

While the plan mentions continued investment in the mental health workforce, we’d like to see more details about how the roles will be recruited and what skills they’re going to require.

We’re urging the NHS to ensure that expansion of the mental health workforce includes a greater choice of types of therapy for members of the public.

We’ve already highlighted in meetings and communications with NHS representatives, and will continue to stress to them, that our members are a highly trained and experienced who are underutilised in the NHS, and often undervalued. We believe they can help meet the need for increased mental health support within the NHS.

Matt Smith-Lilley, our Policy and Engagement Lead (Mental Health), said:

“We’re pleased to finally see the publication of the People Plan and welcome the emphasis on improving the NHS in England as an employer, particularly in response to the experience of many healthcare staff throughout the pandemic.

“However, we’re disappointed not to see much detail in terms of how the principles and ‘practical actions’ will be delivered.

“We’ll continue to work with NHS England and Health Education England to increase the opportunities for counsellors and psychotherapists to play a greater part in the NHS workforce as the expansion rolls out, as well as increasing access for all members of the public to counselling and psychotherapy.

“As 2020 continues we look forward to seeing further iterations of the plans for expanding the psychological therapies workforce to achieve the ambitions for mental health within the Long Term Plan, and we’ll continue to engage with the process for developing and implementing these programmes of work.”

We’ve been campaigning throughout the pandemic for Governments across the UK to work with us on a comprehensive mental health response to Coronavirus – including how we can best support the mental health and wellbeing of NHS and care staff.

You can get involved in the campaign too by signing our petition or writing a letter to your MP using our online platform.

Read the full NHS People Plan.