Labour has accused the government of breaking its promise to boost funding for mental health.
Labour have used freedom of information requests to NHS commissioning bodies in England to find that the average mental health budget fell in 2015/16, yet the Department of Health have rejected the figures and called mental health a government “priority”, reports the BBC.
Dr Phil Moore, chairman of the NHS Clinical Commissioners Mental Health Commissioners Network stressed that CCGs understood the importance of investing in mental health, but financial pressures may leave no room for increased spend in any one area. “It is important to note that many CCGs are not simply looking to invest more in the same models of care that have failed in the past.”
Shadow public health minister Luciana Berger said ministers had repeatedly promised that the amount spent on mental health locally would increase in line with local CCG budgets. “Yet they have failed to make this a reality and too many CCGs actually plan to spend less of their budget on mental health this year.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We do not recognise these figures – NHS England has shown mental health spending has increased by £0.4bn this year. Mental health is a priority for this government and to say otherwise ignores the fact we have given mental and physical health conditions equal priority in law, we’ve increased central funding by millions of pounds, and introduced the first ever treatment targets which will make sure funding goes to where it’s needed.”
NHS England said: “The planning guidance set out a clear expectation for CCGs in terms of increasing spend on mental health. CCGs were required to ensure that mental health spend will rise in real terms and grow at least in line with each CCG’s overall allocation growth, and around 90% of CCGs demonstrated this.”
Sophie Corlett, director of external relations at the mental health charity Mind, said mental health services had always been underfunded and demand was rising. As a result, services in many parts of the country are struggling to cope and people are not getting the help they need. This cannot continue.”
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