Former coroner says mental health units are "starved of resources"

  • The chairman of a heath watchdog in Norfolk has said that mental health services are being "starved of resources".

    Ex-coroner William Armstrong, of Healthwatch Norfolk, said cuts meant "more misery" for patients and their families, reports the BBC. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    He said he had seen a "fragmented and uncoordinated" approach to mental health during his time as a coroner.

    Mental health has been found to be underfunded by 10% (£10bn) by the mental health commission. The commission has said that mental health currently receives 13% of NHS spending in England but accounts for 23% of demand.

    Mr Armstrong told BBC Look East: "Mental health services are being starved of resources given to other parts of the health system. We need to treat mental health on parity with physical health. We need to spend more money on mental health that is unarguable. The government is beginning to recognise that."

    Mr Armstrong said the number of people killing themselves when suffering from mental health conditions could be reduced with the "right specialised treatment by the right people".

    A spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: "Mental health services have to be funded at a level which delivers a decent service to the most vulnerable and needy, young or old. This is not the case at the moment."

    The Department of Health said: "We are absolutely determined to make sure there is equality between mental and physical health. That's why we have invested over £450m in improving access to psychological treatments."

    Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We welcome William Armstrong' s comments and we're pleased to see a healthy level of debate about mental health and funding. These are tough times for the public sector, and the NHS, and we believe that, at a national level, there needs to be greater focus on fairer funding for mental health services."

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