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 Do NHS Mental Health & Addiction Services need a rethink?

NHS – Nationwide studies and reports reveal that people are no longer satisfied with the services provided by the National Health Service. This includes all services beginning from simple healthcare, to care for more critical diseases and their investigative procedures, to the provision of rehab services for mental health and addiction.

There are a lot of factors that could come to play when one asks why this is happening and what can be done to improve this. The mental health and addiction services provided by the NHS, however, definitely need to be revised as not everyone has the resources and privilege to access private rehabilitation facilities.

Why is the NHS struggling with Mental Health and Addiction?

Some reasons that the NHS is struggling to meet the demand and provision of mental health and addiction services pertains to the lack of variety of services they provide. It is not fair to only blame that, however, so it is important to be completely transparent.

The number of people suffering and seeking help for alcohol use disorders and SUDs has increased massively since the late 1900s. As the number of people seeking these services went up, the load on healthcare workers and providers also increased. At one point it became difficult for them to manage. In a report by the NTA, around £500m in a year was spent by the NHS on treating SUDs, while £3.5b a year was spent on alcohol use disorders.

A problem since the beginning that the NHS has had to face is that of underinvestment and understaffing. This includes the number of medical practitioners, doctors, nurses, and healthcare staff. As the quality of service declines due to these issues, people opt for private healthcare options more and more. Then again, private options are not available to everyone out there.

The CEO of Intuition Communication, Keith Pollard, states that the NHS waiting lists are responsible for people opting for private options when it comes to healthcare. This is not only restricted to the NHS’s addiction and mental health services but other aspects as well including diagnostic testing and treatment for diseases like cancer. Restrictions on access to NHS funding for cancer drugs are fuelling growth in self-pay oncology. People tend to opt for services where waiting lists are shorter or non-existent.

The NAO has also commented on this, saying that the NHS has not made enough effort to reduce their understaffing problems by making use of overseas recruitment, etc.

Is the NHS able to meet the Demand for Services?

The services provided by the NHS when it comes to alcohol misuse, addiction, and mental healthcare are the following:

  • Therapy and counselling
  • Outpatient detox services
  • Group therapy options like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous

The NHS also provides options for inpatient rehabilitation. However, the waiting lists for these services are never-ending and people end up looking for private rehabilitation facilities in the end. The NHS also offers to provide funding for private rehab but that is also an extensive procedure with a significant waiting time. Keeping all of this in mind along with the obvious understaffing and lack of resources, it is safe to say that the NHS is not able to meet the demand for services.

What needs to be done to Reform?

There are many suggestions on what can be done to improve and reform the mental health and addiction services provided by the NHS. First of all, the problem of understaffing needs to be addressed and eliminated by arranging the recruitment of qualified and competent healthcare staff. This also requires an increase in funding for this very important healthcare issue. A national programme needs to be set in motion that ensures that standards will be improved upon.

More information on the services provided by the NHS along with knowledge about their conditions needs to be made available to patients so they can make the best decisions regarding their health. The already existing healthcare staff should be provided with adequate training programmes to keep them up to date concerning their knowledge.

More efficient clerical services need to be put into place to ensure a high speed of response. Streamlining of patient data and services will ensure faster diagnosis and provision of services.

To add to this, more permanent healthcare staff should be hired instead of wasting funds on temporary staff. Temporary staff is hired as a temporary solution to many issues, but the only thing it does is drain resources and funding.

What are the Options for those waiting for Addiction Treatment?

A large number of private rehabilitation options are available for those waiting for help. People suffering from mental health issues and addiction deserve quickly provided and readily available treatment.

In the private sector, the range and options for treatment and rehabilitation are much larger. This includes specialised mental health practitioners including therapists and psychiatrists, alcohol and substance use rehabilitation, proper medically supervised detox services, and residential treatment centres.

Residential rehab facilities provide programmes of different lengths and types depending on the type and extent of alcohol or substance dependency. Medically supervised detox is provided to ensure that the detoxification process is as smooth and painless as possible.

A variety of therapies including psychological counselling, mental health therapy, trauma therapy, etc. are provided. As alcohol and substance misuse often stems from an underlying mental illness, private rehabilitation.

These holistic and integrated services are not offered on the NHS, and individuals must self-fund treatment to secure a place.

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