Today’s pledge by the government – to mark World Mental Health Day – builds on the £250 million funding announced in July to remove the outdated dormitories, as part of the government’s record investment in NHS infrastructure.
More than £400 million will be committed over the next 4 years to eradicate dormitory accommodation from mental health facilities across the country to improve the safety, privacy and dignity of patients suffering with mental illness.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock also announced the first 21 NHS trusts that will receive funding to replace out-of-date mental health dormitories with single en suite rooms, to help improve care for mental health inpatients across the country.
The eradication of dormitories will improve the individual care that can be given to patients, allowing them to reduce the length of their stay in the facility.
It will also have benefits for patient safety including through better infection control and by reducing the risk of incidents involving patients or staff.
This new funding delivers on the government’s commitment to accelerate investment in health infrastructure, and to level up access to mental health services, so that every inpatient can receive treatment in an appropriate setting.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“Mental health staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep mental health services open 24/7 so those most in need can continue to get vital support.
“Today I am reiterating our commitment to those patients by stepping up our effort to improve our country’s mental health infrastructure.
“By eradicating outdated and unsuitable dormitories across England we can ensure those suffering with mental illness are given the safety, privacy and dignity they deserve.
“Not only will the new single rooms improve the individual care we can offer patients, they will provide a better environment for our hardworking staff too.”
Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Nadine Dorries said:
“The last few months have been challenging for everyone, particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions.
“Every person receiving treatment in a mental health facility deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and privacy, in an appropriate setting.
“I am delighted that today’s investment in mental health infrastructure will ensure that inpatients throughout the country can receive the best quality care.”
NHS England’s National Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch said:
“Millions of mental health patients are seen by the NHS every year, many thousands as inpatients, and each and every one of them should receive care in wards that are therapeutic and support their recovery, which is why this funding will be so vital.
“And the NHS is also investing in local mental health teams to provide alternatives to ward admission which will help more than 2 million patients get care closer to home.”
Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“Replacing dormitories with single en suite rooms is a positive step towards the much-needed upgrading of mental health wards – even more urgent in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and a second wave.
“With this funding, government is taking decisive action to properly support people living with a mental illness.
“We hope that the necessary investment in other areas of the mental health estate will follow in the upcoming spending review.”
This comes alongside wider announcements to mark World Mental Health Day, including £2 million for research into the effects of COVID-19 on mental health.
The research will focus on the effects of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of 3 at-risk groups: healthcare workers, children and young people, and those with serious mental health problems.
The government has continued to prioritise mental health throughout the pandemic.
Mental health charities, including Mind and BEAT, have benefited from £9.2 million in funding since March to enable them to provide vital support to those who need it most.
This funding has been used to support helplines and webchats, providing support networks for people experiencing anxiety and loneliness, providing safe spaces to reduce the risk of social exclusion of vulnerable people with ongoing, complex mental health problems, and move specialist emotional and practical support for victims of sexual violence from face-to-face online.
The government has also invested £5 million in national loneliness charities, raising awareness and providing advice through the Let’s Talk Loneliness campaign, and a new Tackling Loneliness Network, to support the wellbeing of those struggling with social isolation over the pandemic.
This commitment to transforming and improving mental health services is set to continue, as the Department for Health and Social Care has pledged to invest £2.3 billion in mental health by 2023 to 2024 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
This announcement will see only the Kentmere Ward at the Westmorland General Hospital receive funding in Cumbria.