Closing the gap

Year of Publication: 

The document Closing the Gap: Priorities for Essential Change in Mental Health outlines 25 areas for health and care services to take action which will make a difference to the lives of people with mental health conditions. These changes will mean that the system is fairer for people with mental health problems. The document aims to encourage the NHS to take mental health as seriously and treat it as importantly as physical health.

A major step forward in this will be giving mental health patients more control over their care. From April, for the first time, patients needing treatment for a mental health problem will be able to choose where they get their care in the same way that someone needing a hip or knee replacement has had a right to choose which hospital to have their operation at since 2008. And the choice will not be limited to an NHS provider – patients will also be able to choose a voluntary or independent organisation providing NHS services when they go to see their GP to seek help.

Key measures include:

  • Patients will have a choice about where they get their mental health care – just as someone needing an operation can already choose their hospital or the consultant-led team that will care for them.
  • From next year, waiting time standards will begin to be introduced for mental health – giving mental health patients the same rights as someone who needs, for example, a hip replacement or treatment for cataracts.
  • The Friends and Family Test – already making a difference in the NHS – will be rolled out to mental health services for the first time so patients can give their own feedback on their care and mental health trusts will be able to take swift action if improvements are needed.
  • Talking therapies are already helping 600,000 people - this will be expanded so that 300,000 more people will get help.
  • Children with mental health problems will get more support – including an aim to roll talking therapies for children and young people out to the whole country by 2018 and better support for children moving from adolescent services into adult services.
  • £43 million will be invested in pilots on better housing for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities. Architects and builders will work with mental health experts and charities to bid for projects next year with the aim of new homes beginning to be built by 2017.