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On July 4th 2007, the Government passed its Mental Health Bill through parliament. The main feature of the Bill appears to be the development of better provision of mental health care in the community, in that it will enable some patients who have serious mental health problems to be treated under supervision in the community. The Bill allows psychiatrists to require patients to take treatment in the community following hospital discharge, if they represent a harm to themselves or to others.
This report is the latest in an ongoing series of reports that detail the progress that has been made towards reducing inpatient waiting times, and will cover the period from April to July 2007.
Between November 2006 and February 2007, several developments were made to mental health policy in England and Wales. These included new guidance to improve safety for mental health inpatients, offering more choice in mental health care, the introduction of a new Mental Health Bill, and the introduction of new NHS guidance to tackle mental health and substance abuse problems. These developments will be described in this report.
The Government has for many years intended to improve patient access to General Practitioners (GPs). In November 2006 it initiated the 'GP Patient Survey', which will be sent to 5 million patients to obtain views on how easy it is for patients to access their GPs. The questions will cover such issues as whether patients can book an appointment with their GP within 2 days, whether it is possible to book ahead for an appointment, and whether patients are satisfied with GP opening hours.
This report is the latest in an ongoing series of reports that detail the progress that has been made towards reducing inpatient waiting times, and will cover the period from September 2006 to January 2007.
The Government is attempting to implement the biggest electronic patient record in the world in the English NHS (for further details see report number (8)2006). This report is part of an ongoing series that will detail the development and implementation of this electronic patient record.
In August 2006, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) announced its twelfth work programme, which outlines those interventions that it will be assessing over the coming months. The programme reflects in part NICE's relatively recent commitment to assessing public health interventions, and also includes a focus on attempting to improve mental health care, which is an area that has recently attracted increasing attention in the general health policy debate in the UK.
The Department of Health is attempting to implement a new, integrated NHS IT system, intended to connect 100,000 doctors, 380,000 nurses and 50,000 other health professionals. An important part of this system will be the NHS Care Records Service, which is intended to comprise an individual electronic NHS care record for every patient in England. The Government hopes that the new system will help facilitate its policy of encouraging patients to exercise greater choice of provider.
The length of waiting times and, to a lesser extent, the number of people on waiting lists are often used by the media, and hence the general public, as indicators on how well the NHS is performing. Reducing waiting times has been an important ongoing aspect of Government policy for many years. This report is one of a series that details the progress that is being made on waiting times, and covers the period April to August 2006.
In January 2006, the Government published a White Paper which outlines plans to improve and better integrate health and social care services. To help finance these changes, the Government intends to shift 5% of the resources currently spent on secondary care to primary care over the next ten years, and has emphasised that although 90% of patient contact with the NHS occurs in the community, the UK still spends less than the European average on primary care.