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Cuts to mental health funding will put lives at risk, charities say

Six charities protest at government’s decision to slash mental health funding by 20% more than hospital services

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Six leading mental health organisations are warning that a recent decision by NHS England and the health regulator Monitor to cut funding for mental health services by 20% more than NHS hospital trusts will put lives at risk.

In a joint letter published in The Guardian today, the organisations say that the cut “completely contravenes the Government’s promise to put mental and physical health care on an equal footing and will put lives at risk.”

‪The letter argues that following Mid Staffs, all NHS services no just acute trusts are obliged to comply with the Francis report to improve care and safety for patients. “NHS England funded the additional costs of implementing these recommendations, yet it withheld this from mental health services – creating a significant budget shortfall. Not only does this send out a disturbing and deeply disappointing message, it is likely to have far-reaching consequences for people with mental illness,” the letter says.

Mental health accounts for 28% of the disease burden, but gets just 13% of the NHS budget.

The letter adds: “Mental health services are straining at the seams and these new cuts will mean support is slashed in response to instructions from NHS England. This decision will cost much more in the long term as it will drive up admissions to A&E and the number of people reaching crisis and needing expensive hospital care.”

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