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MH funding gap continues to widen

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By lealegraien@cogora.com
15 January 2018

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Mental health (MH) funding gap between NHS acute hospitals and MH NHS providers has increased, a King’s Fund’s report has revealed.

Helen Gilburt, the report author and fellow in health policy at The King’s Fund, said that the NHS struggles to ‘deliver parity of esteem at the same time as it is under huge pressure to reduce deficits and improve performance in acute hospitals’.

Acute hospitals' pressure

Mental health (MH) funding gap between NHS acute hospitals and MH NHS providers has increased, a King’s Fund’s report has revealed.

Helen Gilburt, the report author and fellow in health policy at The King’s Fund, said that the NHS struggles to ‘deliver parity of esteem at the same time as it is under huge pressure to reduce deficits and improve performance in acute hospitals’.

Acute hospitals' pressure

She said: ‘While the great majority of local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have met their commitments to raise spending on mental health, the overall spending gap between mental health trusts and acute and specialise trusts has widened because national funding has focused on relieving pressure on acute hospitals.’

In 2013 the government committed to achieve parity of esteem between physical and mental health, followed by a pledge to invest £1.25bn in children’s MH services and an extra £1bn to benefit one million more people with MH problems by 2021.

The report, ‘Funding and staffing of NHS mental health providers: still waiting for parity’, shows that between 2016 and 2017, funding for MH trusts increased by around 2.5% while funding for acute and specialist trusts rose by 6%.

In the last five years, there has been an 11% difference between the increase in both funding.

Staff shortages' impact

Tight MH providers funding and growing staff shortages deeply affect the levels of patient care quality and safety.

A recent report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted that staffing shortages in MH services increase risk to patient safety, such as delays in treatment, suicide and self-harm.

Since 2010, reductions in bed numbers have led to a 13% decline in nursing posts in psychiatric hospital settings, while one in 10 of all national posts in specialist mental health services are currently vacant.

Ms Gilburt continued: ‘Unless funding grows more quickly, mental health providers may end up implementing improvements to some services at the expense of others.

‘As long as this is the case, the government’s mission to tackle the burning injustices faced by people with mental health problems will remain out of reach.’

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