Lord Carter’s review of mental health and community health services
Lord Carter of Coles had led a review of NHS mental health and community health services to identify areas for improvement. These services account for about £17 billion of expenditure in England, which is in addition to the £52 billion spent on acute services. The key challenge for mental health services is to meet the significant levels of unmet demand. For example, even with increased resources for children’s mental health, it is estimated that by 2020/21 only 33% of children requiring treatment will have their needs met.
Improving productivity of healthcare services through structural and operational improvements is an important part of the solution. The report specifically identifies the benefits of electronic prescribing and the requirement for healthcare providers to implement technology to replace all paper-based systems. Ashtons is currently developing e-Works, which will provide independent hospitals with an effective electronic prescribing and administration system.
Carter did not consider the significant role of the independent healthcare sector. However, the report can be used to benchmark services against the NHS.
What were the findings?
One of the most important aspects of the review looked at how increased efficiency could improve cost savings and quality of care, and the report suggests that improving operational productivity could save £1 billion.
Over a quarter of NHS Trusts still use paper-based systems for community nursing services and when case management systems are used, they are often confusing and time consuming for staff. The report suggests more investment is needed in technology to free up time for staff members to offer optimum care to patients, rather than dealing with needless bureaucracy.
A summary of the Carter Review findings are below:
- There is significant good practice but there needs to be stronger mechanisms for sharing this.
- Workforce productivity is mixed, particularly in services delivered in the community.
- The Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) programme should extend its approach to community health and mental health services, and specify more efficient and high-quality pathways of care for patients.
- The use of mobile working and technology to drive efficiency and productivity is inconsistent and poor in many areas.
- There is scope for Trusts to take action across all areas of spend including corporate services, procurement and estates.
For a more detailed summary of the findings and recommendations, please visit: https://improvement.nhs.uk/about-us/corporate-publications/publications/lord-carters-review-unwarranted-variations-mental-health-and-community-health-services/