Mental health services unable to cope with NHS cuts

  • Family doctors are warning that the deteriorating state of mental health services in England could mean patients come to harm as one in five patients are unable to get specialist help. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    GPs are reporting that some patients have committed suicide or have been sectioned due to a lack of available community mental health services, reports the Independent.

    Over 80% of GPs believe that their local mental health teams are unable to cope with their caseloads and almost half said that the situation in their area had gotten worse in the past twelve months.

    Mental health receives around 13 per cent of the NHS budget, but is estimated to represent more than a quarter of the country's disease burden.

    Geoff Heyes, policy and campaigns manager at the mental health charity Mind, said that the level of harm witnessed by GPs was "unacceptable but not surprising".

    "People with mental health problems can recover, but early intervention is vital," he said. "If the Government is serious about giving as much importance to mental health as it does physical health, we urgently need to see more funding for mental health services."

    Health minister Norman Lamb said: "We've committed to introducing access and waiting time standards for mental health from next April, with a phased approach depending on affordability. We are also improving mental health training for GPs so that more people get the right support at the right time."

    However, Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, told Pulse that an "urgent" review of funding allocations for mental health was required.

    "There is an urgent need to reassess the way funding is allocated so that services in the community have adequate resources to deliver more proactive, planned care to patients with mental illness," she said.

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