National Audit Office, October 2018
This report forms part of The National Audit Office’s wider programme of work on mental health, following their 2016 report Mental health services: preparations for access and our 2017 report Mental health in prisons. It examines whether the government is on track to meet its ambitions for children and young people’s services, taking Future in Mind as the starting point. It has a focus in particular on how the government decided to implement Future in Mind; whether it is on track to deliver improved mental health services to young people; and accountability for spending and outcomes. It finds the government has not yet set out or costed what it must do to realise these aspirations in full and there remains limited visibility of activity and spending outside the health sector. While the NHS has worked to improve information on its activity and spending, significant data weaknesses are hampering its understanding of progress. Slow progress on workforce expansion to deliver NHS services is also emerging as a major risk to delivery. It calls for the government to ensure a coherent and coordinated cross-sector response, and that the right levers are in place to ensure local actions deliver the national ambitions. It has started to tackle issues of parity of esteem between physical and mental health services for children and young people, but it still has a long way to go, particularly as demand may be higher than originally thought, and an increased focus on mental health may uncover greater demand. Given these weaknesses and uncertainties, we conclude that the government cannot demonstrate that it has yet delivered value for money.
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