Frontline mental health funding on course to fall short again
20 December 2016
Fresh evidence has emerged that, once again, commitments to ensure parity between mental and physical health services will not be consistently met.
Under the Mental Health Investment Standard commissioners are required to boost funding for mental health in line with their own budget increases.
Contract negotiations for the next two years are due to be completed by December 23rd.
A survey of mental health trusts leaders, carried out last week by NHS Providers found:
- Nearly two thirds (63%) thought the Mental Health Investment Standard would be missed.
- The main reason given for the shortfall was that CCGs were giving funding priority to acute hospitals.
- Comments suggest some leaders accept CCGs do not have the money to invest in mental health.
- Well over half (58%) of mental health trust leaders were confident their contracts with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)would be agreed before the deadline.
The survey drew responses from leaders at 38 trusts, which is 64% of all mental health providers in England.
The director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:
“It is very disappointing that despite repeated commitments to ensure parity between mental and physical health, the public commitments to increase mental health funding will not be delivered on the ground.
“The survey findings suggest that in trying to conclude new contracts both commissioners and providers face significant pressures. Many commissioners want to increase funding for mental health but – amid other pressures – they lack the funding to see it through. Mental health trusts are being pressed to sign off payment arrangements and contracts by the end of the week, even if these fail to protect and improve the services available and meet the public commitments that have been made.
“Mental health problems represent the largest single cause of disability and ill health in the UK. Another year of failing to fully meet the public commitments on mental health will undermine the ability to invest in new access standards and other improvements that have been set out in detail by NHS England and strongly supported by both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health.
Many commissioners want to increase funding for mental health but – amid other pressures – they lack the funding to see it through
“When taken together with reduced funding for local government, and the damaging knock-on effect for social care, this can only exacerbate pressures on the wider NHS which translate into delays and distress for patients and service users.
“This must not be allowed to happen. We urge NHS Improvement and NHS England to examine the proposed contracts to ensure they consistently and fully meet the public commitments that have been made and they should consult providers fully in this exercise”.