Jason Beattie of the Mirror reports:
Jeremy Hunt has failed to meet his pledge to increase funding on mental health, figures show today.
Freedom of Information requests reveal the amount of money spent on mental health could be cut for the third year in a row.
More than half of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – the organisations responsible for local health spending – say they will have to reduce spending on mental health services this financial year.
But the Freedom of Information requests, submitted by Labour MP Luciana Berger, also found of 128 CCGs who responded 73 (57%) plan to cut the amount they will spend on mental health in 2016-17.
Ms Berger said: “Time and time again Ministers have promised that mental health spending would increase. Yet for the third year in a row this has not happened, with a majority of local areas planning to spend less of their budget on mental health.
Luciana Berger told the Mirror:
“For all their warm words about parity of esteem, it is clear that Ministers are not committed to achieving equality between physical health and mental health.
“The Government must urgently step in and prevent a dangerous situation developing.”
Fiona Malcolm, Samaritans deputy chief executive, said: “We are extremely concerned to hear that so many Clinical Commissioning Groups around the UK are considering budget cuts to mental health services next year.”
“Last year in the UK more than 6,000 people took their own lives, and every six seconds someone contacts Samaritans, which shows that too many people are struggling and at risk of suicide,” Fiona said.
“Samaritans believes that suicide is everybody’s business. Currently more people die by suicide than in road accidents, and if we are serious about reducing these figures we need to make it a priority that suicide prevention and mental health services are properly resourced.”
If Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) had received the same increases in funding as the largest physical health trust in Norfolk, it would have an annual budget almost £70 million higher than it receives today.
People in Norfolk and Suffolk are only too well aware of the effect of vicious cuts to mental health services: the number of unexpected deaths has increased from 7 to 17 per month since 2012-13.
The Norfolk and Waveney CCGs can find public money to put into their own pockets or those of their management consultancy friends but can’t fund NHS mental health services properly.
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