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Mental health trust funding ‘down 8%’ from 2010 despite coalition’s drive for parity of esteem

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firemonkee57

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Mental health trust funding ‘down 8%’ from 2010 despite coalition’s drive for parity of esteem

Funding for NHS trusts to provide mental health services has fallen by more than 8% in real terms over the course of this parliament, according to research by Community Care and BBC News.

Figures obtained from 43 of England’s 56 NHS mental health trusts through Freedom of Information requests, an analysis of financial reports and other research, show that total funding for the trusts’ mental health services dropped in cash terms from £6.7bn in 2010-11 to an expected £6.6bn in 2014-15. The figures amount to a real terms reduction of 8.25%, or almost £600m, once inflation has been accounted for.

At the same time referrals to community mental health teams, the services designed to stop people’s mental health deteriorating to crisis point, have risen by nearly 20%.

The funding pressures have left some community services handling caseloads double the recommended levels and several are falling short of Department of Health (DH) staffing guidelines.

Official figures show the pressure on inpatient services has also risen. Mental Health Act detentions to hospitals hit a record high last year while bed availability dropped to its lowest level in four years of data collection.

One mental health chief executive called the situation “a car crash”.


Mental health trust funding 'down 8%' from 2010 despite coalition's drive for parity of esteem | Community Care
 
Rod Whiteley

Rod Whiteley

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In another thread here there's been a discussion about Mind and Rethink's contract work for the NHS. Some of those contracts have been lost by NHS trusts and awarded to charities instead, because the charities can provide better care than the trusts were able to. Here in Gloucestershire, for example, the NHS mental health trust lost a major contract that went to the charity Turning Point. In Bristol the NHS mental health contracts were re-awarded to some kind of consortium involving charities together with the NHS trust. This kind of thing makes the headline "down 8%" very misleading because it only takes the trusts into account. It tells you nothing about the overall availability and quality of NHS care for people with mental illnesses.

Even the figures on referrals and so forth are difficult to interpret because of changes in working practices. For example, if a CMHT gets better at helping people to recover, then it will be able to accept more referrals. If it gets worse, then patients will become more seriously ill and need more support, so the CMHT will be able to accept fewer referrals. Looked at this way, rising referrals could mean things are getting better.

All this must indeed seem like a car crash for chief executives of some of the poorly performing trusts.
 
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