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Mental health nursing in England to be focus of review

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The Foundation of Nursing Studies is to undertake a review of practising mental health nursing and its contribution to service provision.

The review will be led by the charity’s chair Professor Tony Butterworth, with work due to begin in March.

Professor Butterworth said: “Mental health services in England are being pushed to provide more sensitive and relevant care, and FoNS believes that the work of mental health nurses is central and crucial to this provision.”

“In particular, we need to examine the work of nurses in acute care settings”

Tony Butterworth

”Our review will address the work of mental health nurses and the particular specialist support they can give,” he said. ”We wish to add to the timely debate on the proper delivery of mental health services.”

He highlighted since the formal establishment of the profession in 1919, mental health nursing had made “sustained and continuous efforts to offer skilled and purposeful support” to patients.

Over the last 20 years there have been two significant reviews of the profession, both of which have offered a series of recommendations to support mental health nurses in their work, he noted.

The 2006 Chief Nursing Officer’s review of Mental Health Nursing and an earlier review from 1994 had both looked at how mental health nurses could contribute to patient care and services in future, he said.

“This ambition has not changed but must be demonstrated with new purpose,” said Professor Butterworth in a blog announcing the review.

“In particular, we need to examine the work of nurses in acute care settings and see how they create and sustain a beneficial environment for care and treatment,” he said.

Foundation chief executive Dr Theresa Shaw said she was pleased the charity could “play its part in raising the profile of the important work of mental health nurses and the issues facing the profession”.

Theresa Shaw

Theresa Shaw

Theresa Shaw

“Mental health nursing is facing the most acute shortages,” she said. “Seeking to strengthen and support the profession is central to caring, safe and effective mental healthcare and to ensure the wellbeing of these tasked with its delivery.”

The announcement of the review comes in response to a major report published earlier this week by NHS England’s independent mental health taskforce.

The report, called the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, warned that mental health care in the NHS was “inadequate” and had in recent years led to worsening outcomes, such as higher suicide rates.

Both NHS England and the prime minister backed the report’s recommendations for improvement, with David Cameron confirming a previously announced the £1bn in funding for mental health.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • If you need nurses in MH it might be an idea not to put obstacles in their way. I applied for training at my uni where I was awarded an MSc in Healthcare management. I had had over 20 years experience in internal medical nursing, mental health and care of the elderly. I could have had a place on the course provided I found a mental health placement but the units I applied to could not offer me a place as I did not have a post-reg. MH qualification! Having trained in the NHS and spent a good number of years working Europe in the WHO and an international university hospital I took my skills and experience back there as I could see any equivalent career prospects or reasonable working conditions in the UK.


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  • Mental health care is still in the dark ages!
    Why do we still lock folk up like prisoners, remove all their contact with the outside world and then wonder why they are depressed.
    In a prison a prisoner can buy their own goodies to keep in a cell, have access to a phone, go to their cell at any time, sleep in the daytime if they so wish and are provided with social activities.
    In a mental hospital we are locked in like prisoners but are not allowed to keep any kind of food/ sweets in pour rooms, our phones are removed and we sit on our backsides dipping into depression because we have no activities!
    Isn't it time we started treating the mentally ill like human beings, unlock the doors, allow folk to nap in the afternoon, some folk being elderly need the nap, and why in a hospital do folk have to be up so early? Medication can make you feel worse than your mental illness, yet folk have to sit in full view of other patients and suffer their misery, there is no such things as privacy and dignity in mental health.
    Yes indeed, mental health care needs reviewing urgently!

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