James Evison 17 October 2016

King’s Fund: Mental health services ‘under threat’

Increased funding for mental health services has not been provided across the country, and services are ‘under threat’, according to a new report by the King’s Fund.

The health think-tank claims its analysis shows 40% of mental health trusts actually saw income fall in 2015/16 rather than grow, despite commitment from central government to increase it.

Assurances were made from NHS England that 90% of plans submitted by clinical commission groups (CCG) last year included mental health funding increases. But according to accounts of 58 mental health trusts in England, which provide 80% of all mental health care, income fell and a higher proportion of trusts ended the year in deficit than in previous financial years.

The think-tank is also concerned that the findings could jeopardise plans to deliver targeted service improvements which were outlined by the Mental Health Taskforce earlier in 2016, which called for increased investment in services such as crisis intervention and early intervention in psychosis services.

Helen Gilburt, the author of the analysis and a fellow at The King’s Fund, said: '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.'

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