Minister says mental health wait standards ‘must happen next year'
- 22 May
A health minister has said that the introduction of standard waiting time for mental health care "must happen next year".
Speaking to the Health Service Journal, Norman Lamb has said that improved waiting time standards and moving to a tariff-based payment system rather than block contracts were important to improve focus and funding for the sector.
The government's mandate to NHS England 2014-15, which sets what the service must deliver, says NHS England, who working with others must "develop a range of costed options in order to implement these [waiting] standards [for mental health] starting from April 2015, with a phased approach depending on affordability".
Mr Lamb has said: "The imbalance [between physical and mental health] completely drives where money goes in the NHS. Both the payment systems and access waiting standards for mental are critical. The mandate is very clear - there is legal force behind the mandate... In my perspective it [waiting standards] must happen from next year. The mandate also is clear that I recognised there is a phasing - you don't achieve the end position straight away. We have to move on access and waiting standards from 2015-16. It's critical that we make a start. First of all it's fair to say as a new right like this gets embedded the numbers taking up the right are probably going to be very small."
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