In January 2019, the NHS Long Term Planset out key national ambitions for the next ten years of the NHS in England that make mental health a key priority. The accompanying ‘Mental Health Implementation Plan’ includes promising initiatives to improve support and treatment for people with eating disorders, and NHS England’s recently published commissioning guidance outlines what patients and carers should be able to expect from adult eating disorder services.
These are all big steps in the right direction. These plans must translate to action to make a real difference to people with eating disorders, but their publication helps campaigners like you hold the Government and the NHS to account.
As five-year plans are created across regions in England to achieve the vision of the Long Term Plan, you have a great opportunity to make sure eating disorders get the focus they deserve.
Your area will be covered by a Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) or Integrated Care System (ICS), which will be making these five-year plans. Find out more about STPs and ICSs.
STPs and ICSs are seeking the views of people in their communities to help them decide what to include in their plans and how best to use their resources.
This is your chance to have your say and encourage local NHS leaders to prioritise eating disorders by sharing what you have learnt from your experiences and highlighting what the NHS Long Term Plan and Commissioning Guidance have to say about these serious mental illnesses.
Three key areas from the NHS Long Term Plan:
Key expectations from NHS England commissioning guidance for adults are that eating disorder services will:
Once these local five-year plans are published, it will be crucial that people with lived experience of eating disorders can continue to influence how they are put into practice and reviewed. Getting involved now is only the beginning of being able to shape the services in your area.
The NHS Long Term plan says that STPs and ICSs will “be expected to engage with their local communities and delivery partners in developing plans, which will be based on a comprehensive assessment of population need.” (p.110). There aren’t specific rules about how they should consult with local communities when developing their five-year plans, so the ways you can have your say will vary depending on which STP/ICS you live in.
Check the STP/ICS website for any current opportunities to share your views and experiences. Some may provide links to surveys or information about upcoming public meetings. Most websites will have a ‘Get Involved’ section that will include such information.
Your local STP/ICS should have contact details on their website, either for them or for someone at a local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who is coordinating public engagement on behalf of the STP/ICS.
You could also get in touch with your local Healthwatch. Healthwatch is an independent champion for people who use health and social care services and there is a local branch in each area. Healthwatch has received funding to help members of the public share their views and experiences with their local STP/ICS.
You don’t need to be an expert in health policy but if you have the time to do some research it may help you plan what to write or say at a meeting. Here are some useful references:
The STP/ICS website may provide information on their current priorities and work done to date. It could also help to research what the setup is in your area and who the key players are within your STP/ICS.
The NHS does not publish much data on eating disorder treatment, but you may find the following sources useful:
Most people writing five-year plans will care about what you are saying and want to make a difference. Remember the time, money, and political pressure on them and make it as easy as possible for them to work with you.
If you’re interested in campaigning with us, we’d love to hear from you! Remember, it’s our job to provide you with information and support to help you feel confident to share your views and experiences with decisionmakers. The team are always happy to read over anything you plan to send and offer feedback and advice.
We’d also love to hear about the experience of sharing your views. Did you feel that they listened and valued your contributions to their work? If so it would be great to know so that we can thank them and develop our understanding around which STP/ICS are prioritising eating disorders.
Inevitably some STP/ICS will give eating disorders a higher priority than others. If your STP/ICS provides you with information about their plans (particularly if it has not already been published) sharing this with us will help us plan our future campaigns.
Are there any outstanding questions you have about how decisions are being made in your area? We would be happy to help you find the answers.
It is the duty of STP/ICS to write plans that take account of the needs of their local populations, so if you haven’t felt listened to, we can help feed this back anonymously to national regulators.
You can email the Beat Campaigns Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.