The government is making much of David Cameron’s mental health announcement today and any new money for mental health is welcome.
Yet all of the figures are promises for total funding over the next five years.
Mental health funding fell by at least £600 million per year during the last Parliament, when local MP Norman ‘mental health champion’ Lamb was the Minister of State in the Department of Health responsible for mental health. That funding cut of more than eight per cent means a loss of funding for mental health totalling £3 billion over the next five years, with further cuts of an additional eight per cent planned. The Department of Health was so ashamed of its cuts to mental health that it stopped collecting the data on national mental health spending.
The budget of our local failed mental health trust, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), would be nearly £70 million per year higher than it is today if NSFT had received the same percentage increases in funding as our largest local physical health trust, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Trust: that is a shortfall of about £350 million over five years. On top of this, NSFT faces further cuts of £36 million.
To make ‘parity of esteem’ a reality in just Norfolk and Suffolk would take more than one-third of the money for the entire country announced by David Cameron today. There are more than fifty mental health trusts in the NHS and the unaccountable Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) created by the ‘no top down reorganisation of the NHS’ have been diverting funding away from physical to mental health and will probably continue to do so.
Let’s watch duplicitous Norman Lamb attempt to claim credit for this limited additional funding while no longer a minister, yet deny all responsibility for the far larger cuts which were imposed while he was in charge.
There is a long, long way to go.
UPDATE at 1236: The Department of Health has admitted to Health Service Journal that the Prime Minister’s announcement does not contain a single penny of new money.
You can read David Cameron’s announcement by clicking on the image below: