Mental health has a hell of a lot to teach the acute sector,” says Bev Humphrey, the outgoing chief executive of the Greater Manchester mental health NHS foundation trust. “It needs to sit up and listen.”
Humphrey believes that truly integrated mental health teams – involving psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, social workers, speech therapists, occupational therapists and dietitians – that provide services around the clock are the way forward across the NHS. “We have crisis intervention teams working 24/7, helping to reduce the pressure on inpatient beds. If you had that for older people, you would have fewer emergency admissions to hospital.”
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Although Humphrey wants more integration on the frontline, she does not think that health and social care organisations should merge. “What makes me incredibly nervous is any talk about integrating commissioning and funding of services,” she says. “If the funding is shared between clinical commissioning groups and local authorities – when I see that those same local authorities have had to decimate their adult and children’s social care services due to cuts – why would I want to merge? It would be like getting into bed with a bankrupt brother.
Outgoing NHS chief executive thinks there should be much more planning and strategy, the sort of thing NHS chief executives do, but not fewer organisations because that would mean fewer NHS chief executives.
It is a shocking set of views, isn’t it, from such a source?