‘Worrying’ lack of funding increases for mental health services

Many mental health trusts are still struggling to fund services despite government commitments to deliver parity of esteem between physical and mental health, new King’s Fund research shows.

The King’s Fund figures show that 40% of mental health trusts experienced a decrease in operating income between 2014-15 and 2015-16. This is the same level as between 2013-14 and 2014-15, although it is a slight improvement on 45% in the previous year.

Helen Gilburt, a fellow in policy at the King’s Fund, said: “The fact that the planned increases in funding for mental health have not materialised in trust finances in so many areas is worrying, as there is a really urgent need for investment.

“Patients should expect access to timely and effective treatment, yet across the country there is widespread evidence of poor-quality care, and patients are increasingly reporting a poor experience of mental health services. Many of the pressures in mental health are being seen in areas of care where patients are most vulnerable.

“While we welcome the commitments to increase funding, the experience of last year shows that parity of esteem for mental health continues to remain under threat.”

The government promised an additional £1bn for mental health services following the findings of the Mental Health Taskforce earlier this year. However, a recent Public Accounts Committee report warned that the reforms lack “sound foundations” in terms of funding and accurate data.

The King’s Fund said this indicates that mental health spending in many CCGs has been lower than planned, as resources are instead directed towards tackling deficits in the acute sector.

In addition, it said it reflected the difference in payment systems. Mental health providers are primarily paid in block contracts, which fail to reflect increases in demand and leave them more vulnerable to spending cuts.

The think tank warned that spending pressures could have an impact on the quality of services, with 40% of mental health and community trust finance directors planning to cut permanent clinical staff and a quarter of CCGs failing to meet mental health performance targets.

(Image c. Dominic Lipinski from PA Wire)

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Jeremy Engdahl-Johnson   21/10/2016 at 03:13

Here’s more on mental health parity: Check the safe harbor for outpatient benefits at --

Anna Maria   13/11/2016 at 12:50

I wish to voice my opinion on the closure of a local rehab house in Nuneaton, Warwickshire (55 Highfield Road) which is due to close on 23 December 2016. Highfield House supports people who suffer with mental health and it gives 100% to its residents. They give one to one and also assist the residents to take part in activities within the community. This gives people confidence and support to to try and live a normal life. Some of these staff have worked there for over 20 years and have plenty of experience, so who has come to this decision to dispose of such an excellent team? I am not only disgusted I am angry that a place like this is being closed by the NHS, to the point that I have recently raised my concerns on the local Coventry & Warwickshire radio. I believe it is the governments job to ensure that these people are given the support and rehabilitation that they need, not take it away from them and have them fend for themselves and in addition, prevent these experienced staff from losing their jobs. There should be more of these houses as they have a very good success rate as opposed to bigger centres like the Caludon Centre in Coventry. I have experienced both environments first hand with my own son’s mental health, who needs 24/7 care, not physically but mentally. He has been in and out of the Caludon centre over the years, yet attended Highfield House successfully for two years and has now moved on to foster care. I think it is a disgrace how people with severe mental health problems are being treated by your government.  Yet I am sure the government will have a comfortable Christmas unlike the staff at Highfield House! The government can find millions of pounds out of a hat when it comes to foreign aid, however they cannot help your own country with problems like mental health. They are pushed to the bottom of the pile. It a minefield when trying to get funding to help these people find a place to live on their own and be more independent but still need support. It is time the government change their views on how mental health is supported.  All the cuts that are being made, it does not affect people like them but it affects common folk like me and millions of others. They have nothing to be proud of as far as mental health is concerned.  It is time they got their act together on this issue.

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