Mental Health Trust Budgets Cut By 2 Per Cent

A Freedom Of Information Request Revealed The Cuts

12.12.2013

Mental health NHS trusts have faced budget cuts of more than two per cent in real terms over the past two years.

A Freedom of Information request from the BBC has shown the government has slashed the amount of funding available to psychiatric institutes and talking therapy clinics over the course of this parliament.

While the coalition guaranteed NHS budgets would rise by 0.1 per cent every year in real terms between 2010 and 2015 - it was shown that money is being moved away from care and support facilities for vulnerable people and is instead being put into other local health services.

Professor Sue Bailey, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "Even small cuts at this time can have a disproportionately large effect on the welfare of our patients."

However, the coalition's care and support minister Norman Lamb has denied this is a central government decision and claimed local commissioners are behind the cuts.

"It is completely unacceptable for local commissioners to disadvantage mental health in the allocation of funds to local health services," Mr Lamb added.

"This completely conflicts with the government's clear position that there must be parity of esteem - equality - between mental and physical health."

Mental health charity Mind has consistently called for more money to be pumped into mental health facilities in order to cut a huge backlog in the number of people waiting for talking therapy. In some areas patients regularly need to wait more than a year before being able to access the service.

Staffing levels in particular are a cause for concern for Mind and Paul Farmer, the charity's chief executive, said financial pressure needs to be taken off mental health trusts in order to allow them to hire the personnel they require to deal with higher levels of demand.

But the government argues it is tackling the issue through the Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat, which will allow organisations like the NHS, police and Home Office to communicate more effectively on matters pertaining to psychological illness.

Expert Opinion
In order for the Mental Health Services to be improved and maintained, access to funding for specialist facilities and clinics is vital. Spending cuts are inevitable in the economic climate, but services such as these are a lifeline to patients who suffer from mental health issues.

“Psychiatric patients are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Without access to a consistently high standard of care, the consequences can be devastating. It can be difficult to understand many mental health issues as there are no physical signs, therefore this means that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that vulnerable patients are receiving the best possible support.

“Some mental health issues need just as timely emergency treatment as physical problems, so we need to ensure that there is a concise way of monitoring that improvements are being made and implemented across the NHS.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner