Mental health charities are warning that funding cuts from April contradicts the government’s promise to equalise mental and physical healthcare.
Six leading mental health organisations are warning the NHs that people with mental health problems could die due to controversial NHS funding changes which breach pledges by ministers to treat patients with psychological and psychical conditions equally.
The organisations say that the NHS’s decision to cut the amount of money the sector will receive in “tariffs” of fees for its services from April will hit areas of NHS care that is already “straining at the seams” the hardest, reports the Guardian.
They are angry that a 1.8% cut in the amount of money for non-acute care services, which includes mental health, is being imposed. The reduction in budget is 1.5% higher than the reduction in the budget for acute hospital-based medical services.
The differential tariff is being brought in to raise £150m to help acute hospitals pay for the extra staffing it needs. This will cost non-acute providers the same amount that they are losing in effect to subsidise hospital services.
The care services minister, Norman Lamb, has said the decision to penalise mental health services “flawed and unacceptable”.
NHS England says that it has put procedures in place to ensure that mental and physical health are treated equally in the future. In a statement, NHS England said it had been “working solidly in its first year now to ensure that mental health no longer inhabits the silo that existed in the old system but is fully embedded in all the work we’re doing to deliver outcomes and high quality care”.
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, one of the charities involved, said early intervention programmes were “very good value for money” and the prospect of budget cuts was “very worrying, reports the BBC.
“Early Intervention in Psychosis services are known to be highly effective in helping young people to negotiate their first episode of psychosis”, he said. “They offer hope of a brighter future by helping young people to stay in education, to get and keep work, and to support their physical health. They save the NHS £9 and the wider economy another £9 for every £1 invested in them.”
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