NHS Mental Health budgets at “breaking point”
On Thursday 6 October, comments reported to have been made at NHS England’s Board Meeting suggested that cost pressures on the NHS due to inflation mean mental health investment will need to be revisited if the current budget is maintained.
It was also suggested that trying to proceed on this budget, with current levels of inflation, may affect how services are delivered.
Responding to the comments, Vicki Nash, Associate Director of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind, said:
“Our mental health system, the staff who run it, the estates on which it’s situated, and the budgets used to deliver all of this, are at breaking point. A bruised NHS has stumbled on with mental health care post-Covid, battling with an increasingly inadequate budget that doesn’t give our services the chance to catch up and recover – let alone improve. The comments coming out of NHS England’s Board meeting are deeply concerning – with high inflation threatening the already fragile mental health budget, it’s vital the UK Government now act.
“If the UK Government wants to achieve its target of getting Britain moving and increasing growth, it cannot leave over a million people sitting on waiting lists for vital mental health support. The economy can't thrive unless people are supported to thrive. As we enter the winter in a cost-of-living crisis which will see the demand for mental health support shoot up, now is not the time to cut the mental health budget or compromise on care.
“We need to see major investment into our mental health services to make sure that people get the support they need and the NHS Long Term Plan for mental health stays on track. We need funding to address a crumbling mental health estate and a plan to address the significant workforce shortages. To promote growth we need to expand mental health employment support programmes, such as Individual Placement and Support (IPS) and increase the availability of talking therapies tailored to people’s needs.
“We urgently need the UK government to produce its 10 year, cross-Government mental health plan, which former Health Secretary Sajid Javid promised earlier this year. An effective plan would set out clear steps for how we will meet the challenges we face and make clear the levels of investment needed to achieve this.”