A freedom of information request to England's 211 GP-led local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) by Luciana Berger, shadow public health minister, has found that 72 of the 142 (67%) which responded spend less than 10% of their budget on mental health services. Surrey Heath CCG was found to spend the least on mental health at £7m (6.55%) of its £107m budget, compared to West London who spent the most (18.02%).
Commenting on the finding Mind’s Director of External Relations Sophie Corlett said:
"This new data is the latest in a long line of signs that paint a profoundly worrying picture of widespread underinvestment in mental health services at a local level across England. We have seen reductions in NHS spending on mental health at a national level for three consecutive years now, as well as far-reaching cuts to local services that people rely on for mental health support. At the same time, demand for mental health services is increasing, as people struggle to cope with the impact of the recession, unemployment and changes to the welfare system. Mind is seeing the fall out of this every day and has seen a huge increase in calls to our infoline over the past couple of years, with a particular increase in calls about money worries and people expressing suicidal thoughts.
‘Mental health has long been chronically underfunded and an easy target for cuts, but clinical commissioning groups must prioritise mental health services, both to ensure ‘parity of esteem’ with services for physical health problems and to safeguard existing services. We know that the NHS is under huge financial pressure as a whole but mental health problems account for 23 per cent of the burden of illness in the UK and there simply isn’t any room for belt-tightening in these services. With the General Election on the horizon, Mind is calling on whoever forms the next Government to commit to increasing the overall NHS mental health budget by a minimum of 10 per cent in real terms over five years."