Mental health care cuts in England 'to total £4.5m'

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Hospital staff in a corridorImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
NHS England said in February 2016 it had identified the need to invest an additional £1bn in mental health services

Mental health spending is being cut by £4.5m in five English regions this year, new figures indicate.

The largest cut, of £1.9m or 3.6% , will be made in Walsall, in the West Midlands, Pulse magazine data shows.

Two Merseyside clinical commissioning groups (CCG) in Sefton and St Helens as well as Isle of Wight and Scarborough, North Yorkshire are also facing cuts.

But data, from 127 CCGs in a freedom of information request, shows overall spending will rise by 4.15% in 2017/18.

The figures come after NHS England said in its Five Year Forward View for mental health, in February 2016, there was a need for CCGs to spend an additional £1bn by 2020/21.

'Lower funding'

It also required CCGs to increase their spend on mental health services in line with budget increases.

And an NHS England spokesman said: "CCGs as a whole are on track to achieve the mental health investment target in 2016/17."

In response Prof Simon Brake, chief officer for NHS Walsall CCG, said: "Walsall CCG benchmarks nationally as high-spending, falling within the upper quartile as an outlier.

He said it had "invested significantly more in previous years in mental health than CCG peers ahead of the national requirements to make investments and there was a "lower than average funding growth of only 1.4% compared to the national average of 2.14%".

Image source, European Photopress Agency
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Prince William and Prince Harry appear in a film promoting the Heads Together #oktosay campaign

A spokesman from NHS South Sefton CCG said: "We have assurance from our main mental health providers... they will be able to deliver the must dos set out in the Five Year Forward View for mental health within the budget allocations for 2017/2018 and 2018/2019."

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG said the figures did not take into account other work it was doing on mental health.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP Committee, said cuts go "against government pronouncements that mental health will have priority" and that they would have a "damaging effect".

Marjorie Wallace, from mental health charity Sane, said despite the recent Prince William and Prince Harry's Heads Together #oktosay campaign, "cuts to services across the country continue and people seeking help are still being failed".

"A recent report found that 40% of the mental health trusts in England had seen cuts to their budgets, and figures show mental health trusts received none of the extra £8bn funding for the NHS over the last four years," she added.

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