Predictions of more suicides ‘seem’ to not be happening, says NHS boss

Predictions that the coronavirus pandemic could have led to a rise in suicides seem not to have come true in the UK and other countries, the boss of NHS England has said.

Sir Simon Stevens was asked about the mental health implications of Covid-19 when he answered questions from the Health and Social Care Committee of MPs on Tuesday.

Sir Simon told the meeting: “Fortunately the predictions that some had that the pandemic might lead to an increase in deaths by suicide seem not to be happening in most countries, including this one.”

But he warned: “We’ve got to take a very hard look at the exacerbated mental health needs that have arisen through the pandemic” and that problems have increased elsewhere.

“In other areas such as young people’s mental health services and eating disorders, urgent referrals really are going up very very sharply,” he added.

Sir Simon also urged the committee to “make sure we’re taking account of those new needs” and to “underpin all of that with expansion of the mental health work force”.

He explained: “If we haven’t got the therapists, the mental health nurses and the psychiatrists, then all of the rest will be for the birds.”