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Commitments to increased mental health funding not reaching front line, says report

17 October 2016

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Front line mental health services have not seen the increases in funding promised by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), according to a new analysis.

The analysis from the King’s Fund shows that 40% of mental health trusts saw their income fall in 2015/16, based on the annual accounts of all 58 mental health trusts in England.

This is despite assurances from NHS England that nearly 90% of plans submitted by CCGs last year included mental health funding increases.

NHS England had made it clear that it expected CCGs to increase mental health funding in 2015/16.

However, the think-tank said income fell in a number of trusts last year, providing a clear indication that the promised funding increases are not reaching the front line.

The analysis also showed that a higher proportion of trusts ended the year in deficit than in previous years.

Mental health trusts provide about 80% of all mental health care, The King’s Fund has said the lack of funds will have a direct impact on access to treatment and the quality of patient care.

The Fund is also concerned that this will jeopardise plans to deliver targeted service improvements outlined by the Mental Health Taskforce earlier this year.

The Taskforce’s report called for increased investment in vital services such as crisis intervention and early intervention in psychosis services.

Helen Gilburt, the fellow in policy at The King’s Fund who did the analysis, 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.”