We’ve been at the NHS Citizen Assembly Stocktake meeting, which is the last event of the first year of NHS Citizen, and although NHS Citizen is still in the design phases, it looks like it’s already starting to make a difference.
During the design process, we created a prototype to gather opinions and ideas around improving NHS services and provisions in England. This included workshops, online conversation and debate, as well as a test run of the NHS Citizen Assembly meeting at the 2014 NHS England AGM.
One of the topics raised by citizens prior to that Assembly meeting test was mental health services. About forty people joined the mental health discussion at the Assembly meeting and debated two questions: what can the NHS do to improve mental health services and what are the issues that are important to you?
Citizens then presented to the NHS England Board, discussing topics such as parity of esteem; integrated care; young people’s mental health (including early identification and diagnosis); co-producing services; loneliness and isolation; access to timely services; local services; and funding.
NHS England has now announced that, following the conversations and concerns raised through NHS Citizen, they are forming a Mental Health Taskforce to develop a new five-year national strategy for mental health that will be published in autumn 2015. This is incredibly important as it will be the first time that NHS England has ever designed a strategic approach for mental health and care services across all age groups.
You can see NHS England’s announcement here: http://www.england.nhs.uk/2015/03/25/taskforce-launched/