The Independent view

Fairytale tax cuts threaten mental health services that are already inadequate

Editorial: The NHS and social care will be further undermined by unrealistic election promises

Saturday 25 November 2023 18:50 GMT
The NHS as a whole is in a parlous state
The NHS as a whole is in a parlous state (Getty)

There will be more cases like that of Ben Craig – a mental health patient who was well enough to leave hospital, but who was stranded on a ward for two years – if the next election becomes a Dutch auction of tax cuts.

Of course, Jeremy Hunt’s cut in national insurance contributions is not a real tax cut, in that it will be offset by the rising burden of overall taxation. But it is taking real money out of public services that would otherwise be available.

As we report today, and have been reporting in recent weeks, NHS mental health services are in no state to have their budgets squeezed. Mr Craig’s story, which Mind, the mental health charity, says is far from unique, is likely to be repeated far too often in the years to come. The NHS needed his bed but was unable to discharge him as two local councils fought over which should pay for his supported housing. As a result, the cost to the taxpayer of keeping him in hospital was far more than that of supporting him in the community.

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