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64 CCGs have decreased proportional spending on mental health


By Carolyn Wickware
21 September 2017

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A third of CCGs have reduced the proportion of their budget that they spend on mental health in 2017/18.

According to data uncovered by the Labour Party through Freedom of Information requests, 64 CCGs plan to spend a smaller percentage of their budget on mental health this year than they did last year.

The investigation received 129 responses from 209 CCGs.

A third of CCGs have reduced the proportion of their budget that they spend on mental health in 2017/18.

According to data uncovered by the Labour Party through Freedom of Information requests, 64 CCGs plan to spend a smaller percentage of their budget on mental health this year than they did last year.

The investigation received 129 responses from 209 CCGs.

Luciana Berger MP, a Labour member of the Health Select Committee, said: ‘Theresa May claims to be committed to improving mental health but her cuts are harming mental health services.’

She added: ‘Ministers must ask themselves how long this can be allowed to go on for. They are overseeing a system, which puts patients at risk and staff under unbearable pressure.  

‘Enough empty promises.  At the very least Jeremy Hunt must urgently introduce a ringfence around mental health budgets.’

What are CCGs expected to spend?

NHS England’s planning guidance for 2017 – 2019 states that all CCGs are required to increase their spend on mental health by at least as much as their overall budget increase.

This is described as the mental health investment standard or ‘parity of esteem’ target first discussed in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health.

Why are the CCGs saying they have cut spending?

Prof Simon Brake, chief officer for NHS Walsall CCG, said the CCG is classified ‘as an outlier’ having invested ‘significantly more in previous years in mental health services than its CCG peers’.

He added: ‘This, combined with lower than average funding growth of only 1.4% compared to a national average uplift of 2.14% has resulted in the CCG working closely with its local mental health providers to develop a transformation programme which meets national trajectories for moving care closer to home and improves quality of provision and outcomes whilst at the same time working within available financial resources.’

However, other CCGs denied the claims found in the investigation, with NHS Lambeth CCG saying in a statement that their CCG ‘is increasing its spend on mental health services over this year and next year in line with growth in funding.  Our plans show that we are meeting the Mental Health Investment Standard’.

NHS Brighton and Hove CCG also said their spend is in keeping with the mental health investment standard.

A spokesperson for the CCG said: ‘Mental Health services are a top priority for us and, as such, we have increased the amount we spend on mental health services by £1.35m this year.

‘The amount we spend on mental health services is in-line with the ‘parity of esteem’ national recommendations that ensures mental health is valued equally with physical health.’

What are officials saying?

NHS England wouldn’t comment on the investigation but the department of health defended CCG spend on mental health.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘This government has increased, not decreased, investment in mental health services.

‘Since 2010, spending on mental health has risen to a record £11.6 billion this year, with a further investment of £1 billion every year by 2020/21 and we expect CCGs to increase their spending as set out in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.

What are the experts saying?

Alison Cobb, senior policy and campaigns officer at Mind, said: ‘Last week, NHS England’s own data, published as part of the mental health dashboard, indicated that a quarter of CCGs aren’t currently spending what they had planned to on mental health. So it’s worrying to hear that half of CCGs planned on reducing their spending on mental health in the coming year.’

Healthcare Leader revealed last week that 57 CCGs underspent their budget on mental health, despite a national overspend.

Ms Cobb added that while the Government’s commitment to increase spending by £1bn ‘is very welcome’, she added that ‘it’s vital that money reaches the frontline’.

She said: ‘We want everyone with a mental health problem to get the care and support they need, when they need it. At the moment, that’s just not happening.’

Dr Gary Wannan, BMA consultants committee deputy chair and consultant psychiatrist, added that the findings are ‘so frustrating’.

He said: ‘Without increased spending, mental health services are struggling.

‘If patients are fortunate enough to live in an area which has invested in specialised services, the standard of care and support they receive can be pioneering.

‘Meanwhile another patient somewhere else in England may have no choice but to be treated in a bed hundreds of miles away from friends and family.’

Which CCGs have cut their spend on mental health?

Here are the ten CCGs that have decreased their percentage spend on mental health services the most. An astrix denotes a CCG that has provided a year to date figure for 2017/18.

CCG   CCG total funding Mental health Mental health (%)   CCG total funding Mental health Mental health (%)   % change in total spent on mental health
West Kent   606.30 58.10 9.58%   625.63 46.92 7.50%   -2.08%
Croydon   434,368 53,161 12.24%   486,743 50,569 10.39%   -1.85%
Lewisham   417.14 71.84 17.22%   463.27 71.25 15.38%   -1.84%
Walsall   423.90 47.90 11.30%   428.50 40.80 9.52%   -1.78%
Lambeth*   466.00 72.27 15.51%   130.00 18.00 13.85%   -1.66%
Brighton and Hove   365.50 51.60 14.12%   411.40 52.00 12.64%   -1.48%
Slough   177.59 17.36 9.78%   202.63 16.84 8.31%   -1.46%
Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead   172.67 16.74 9.69%   194.12 16.03 8.26%   -1.44%
Southwark*   417.96 62.00 14.83%   111.00 15.00 13.51%   -1.32%
Norwich   242.77 31.62 13.02%   286.30 33.54 11.71%   -1.31%

 

For more on mental health, register here to attend a Healthcare Leader Forum event in Reading and hear from Andy Bell on developing a evidence base for mental health in primary care.

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