In a speech today Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, has called on the Government to provide increased funding and warned that if it doesn’t come through then services, including mental health services, will suffer. Last year the NHS committed to a five-year plan to improve mental health services, with an extra £1bn attached.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind and independent chair of the NHS’s taskforce on mental health, said:
“The NHS is under an enormous amount of pressure, not least in mental health services. We agree that the NHS needs more funding overall, and it would be especially alarming if mental health services were affected by any further cuts. Access to mental health services has never been and is still nowhere near what we take for granted in other parts of the NHS; only a third of people with mental health problems get any kind of treatment or support at all. Regardless of pressures on the NHS as a whole, mental health can’t afford to take the hit.
“The extra £1billion for mental health, announced just last year and expected in full by 2020-21, will only scratch the surface. It has not been pledged to give us world-class mental health services but to bring them up to a basic standard, to start the long road to achieving the ‘parity of esteem’ that both the Government and the NHS say time and time again they are committed to. The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which the NHS accepted and committed to delivering last year, is just the beginning. It will take decades of significant and sustained investment if we are to ensure that everyone with a mental health problem gets the help they need, when they need it.
“After decades of neglect and underfunding, there is no room for belt-tightening in NHS mental health services and the public demands better. It would be profoundly unfair for already-stretched staff to be put under any more pressure and for people with mental health problems to lose out more than they already do. The Government has a duty to ensure that the NHS has what it needs to run good quality health services and the NHS must protect, and deliver on its promise to improve, mental health services no matter what.”