Mental health nursing cuts
The Royal College of Nursing says that since 2010 over 3,300 mental health nursing posts have been slashed, alongside a reduction of 1,500 fewer beds leading to a real and lasting impact on mental health services. Demand has increased by 30% in the same period, according to the report.
Widely acknowledged as a specialist area of nursing, a leading mental health charity has also warned that the cuts are damaging the care patients receive, leaving them needing long-term support.
Commenting on the cuts, Professor Alan Simpson, who leads the Centre for Mental Health Research at City University London, said:
"The revelation by the RCN that there are now 3,300 fewer mental health nursing posts could not have come at a worse time. Higher levels of depression, anxiety and increased rates of suicide have increased demand on mental health services, as people struggle with the impacts of austerity. The need for skilled nursing care for people with dementia and their families has never been higher.
"Addressing the physical health needs of people with severe mental illness is urgent, as rates of obesity, smoking, diabetes, heart disease and premature death are far higher than in the non-mentally ill population. There is also an increasing recognition that we need more mental health nurses in primary care and across the acute care sector as people with a range of long-term physical health conditions also experience increased levels of mental distress which are often unaddressed, leading to poorer patient outcomes and increased costs to the NHS.
"Mental health nurses are the key healthcare professionals working with people in mental distress across a range of inpatient and community settings. They bring evidence-based technical expertise coupled with compassionate acceptance and understanding of people with mental illness and their families. As a caring society, we must invest in this crucial workforce."