Mental health funding stagnant across half of NHS trusts, study finds

The figures, which relate to England, show ministers are are not meeting their goal of 'parity of esteem' with physical health

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A promise by ministers to give mental health the same importance as physical health in the NHS has gone unfulfilled, a new report has warned.

Research undertaken by the organisation representing mental health trusts found that funding was still either stagnant of falling in around half of areas this year.

The NHS Providers report, “Funding mental health at local level: unpicking the variation” found that just 52 per cent of providers in England had reported a real-terms increase in 2015/16.

The Government says it is promirising mental health and wants to give it “parity of esteem” with physical health in the NHS. 

This weekend the Government pledged £15 million funding to keep people with mental health problems out of police cells, while last month the Department of Health and Department for Education launched a new child mental health service. 

Former coalition ministers have warned that overall parity with physical health is unlikely to be met at the current rate of progress, however.

NHS Providers director of policy and strategy, Saffron Cordery, argued that her organisation’s research shows that any extra funding was not reaching the front line. 

“Much has been said at the national level to improve the disparity between mental and physical health, but this report highlights that the necessary investment is not reaching frontline NHS trusts,” she said.

“These are the very organisations that are facing increasing levels of demand and pressure on their resources, whilst needing to provide the most essential urgent and long term care, treatment and support to service users.”

The Independent reported in March that Lib Dem former mental health minister Norman Lamb believed “parity of esteem” was not being met.

Mr Lamb, now the Liberal Democrats’ health spokesperson, said then that “all signs” pointed to “a continuing disadvantage for those who suffer from mental illness with no prospect of it ever changing".