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Mental health funding fails to reach front line as demand rises, report finds

Mental health funding fails to reach front line as demand rises, report finds

Rising demand, workforce shortages and the failure of funding to get through to the frontline means core mental health services are being overwhelmed
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Rising demand, workforce shortages and the failure of funding to get through to the frontline means core mental health services are being overwhelmed, a new report says.

A state of the NHS Provider sector report, from NHS Providers, said that despite the Government’s commitment to addressing the long-standing inequalities in mental healthcare, services are still deteriorating.

A survey in the report of two thirds of trusts that provide mental health services found that more than 70% expect demand to increase this year, with just one in ten saying their local trust is managing demand and planning for unmet need.

Meanwhile, 80% of trusts said extra money intended for mental health at a national level is still not getting through to the front line.

Healthcare Leader recently found five areas in England are planning to cut spending on mental health services in 2017/18, despite being given extra money by NHS England in increase mental health funding.

Dr Phil Moore, chair of NHSCC Mental Health Commissioners Network, said: ‘We have heard from some of our members that they have faced pressure to spend money on stabilising the acute sector, rather than investing in mental healthcare and so share the concerns on this raised in today’s report.’

But he added: ‘It must be recognised that while mental health trusts, like those surveyed for the NHS Providers report, provide invaluable and critical services, mental healthcare is wider than this.

‘To get the best possible outcomes for their population, CCGs are also investing more in new models of care that focus on crisis care and recovery out of hospital, exploring new voluntary sector partnerships and investing in primary care services.’

The report also found that fewer than two in three chairs and chief executives were confident their trusts were able to provide high quality care, while over half have said they are worried about their ability to maintain the right number of staff to provide that care.

The director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery, said: ‘Having the right staff, with the right skills in the right place is the only way to improve mental health services on the ground.

‘But mental health trust leaders are struggling to find sufficient staff to deliver their current services, let alone find new staff to extend, transform or innovate services.

She added that the Government’s targets to transform mental health care ‘will not be met’ unless these areas are addressed.

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