Posted on: 7 June 2024

System partners gathered Wednesday 22 May to reflect on the progress achieved in mental health care across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes over the last five years.

It was organised by the BLMK Integrated Care System and involved East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and Central and North West Foundation Trust (CNWL), the area’s two mental health providers and VCSE partners.

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The theme was to reflect on progress and consider what changes are needed to provide care that continues to meet the needs of the area’s communities and increased demand for care.

Richard Fradgley, Executive Director of Integrated Care, opened the event and said,

"Significant progress has been made in improving mental health care across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes since 2018, the year before the NHS Long Term Plan for Mental Health," he said following the forum.

"Whilst we have made progress, we know we need to continue to improve. In the wake of the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, demand for mental health services has increased substantially, which means we need to continue to focus on improving access, in particular for people in crisis. This event provided an opportunity to explore how we address that need using the exceptional spirit of collaboration between partners which has shone through in all of the positive changes already made."

Progress over the last five years has included:

  • Perinatal mental health services are planning to see over 1000 more women annually
  • The launch of maternal mental health services
  • The launch of 11 new mental health schools teams (MHSTs)
  • The opening of the Evergreen mental health inpatient unit for children and young people
  • Nearly 25,000 adults accessing talking therapies service annually
  • Significant investment into our community mental health services transformation programme
  • Expanded befriending services now making 13,500 calls every year
  • Access to mental health crisis support via NHS 111 (option 2)
  • The launch of crisis cafes
  • Improved access to dementia diagnosis

The event was co-produced with service users from across BLMK.

Service users shared their stories with the audience, emphasising the value that co-production had given them as individuals and in helping ensure the system listens to patient voices when planning and delivering care.

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Breakout groups were held for guests to discuss a range of subjects, from suicide prevention and mental health support for young adults to improving support for dementia.

Attendees were also able to browse a marketplace of health and voluntary service providers, learning more about the different offers available across BLMK.

Other organisations involved on the day included Luton All Women’s Service, CHUMS, Total Wellbeing Luton, Mind BLMK, Penrose and Bedfordshire Rural Community Charities.

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I would like to thank every individual and partner who took the time to be involved,” said Michael Farrington, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Mental Health Programme Manager.