Mental health spending will increase by over £2bn a year by 2023/24, the Government has revealed as part of the 2018 budget announcement.
Speaking in Parliament today, chancellor Philip Hammond said that ‘there are many pressing demands on additional NHS funding, but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer from mental health illness’.
The NHS 10 year plan will therefore focus on mental health through a series of measures Mr Hammond presented today. These are:
- A new mental health crisis service with comprehensive mental health support in every major A&E
- Crisis teams for children and young people in every part of the country
- More mental health ambulances
- More safe heavens in the community
- A 24 hour mental health crisis hotline
Mr Hammond said: ‘These new services will ensure that people suffering from a crisis, young or old, can get the help they need, ending the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence.’
Parity between mental and physical health
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Theresa May made achieving parity between mental and physical health one of the Government’s priorities when she announced the NHS will receive £20.5bn in real terms by 2023/24.
Commenting on the funding announcement, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, said:
‘The prospect of an additional £2 billion of funding for mental health by 2023/24 is a welcome step on the journey towards true parity of esteem.’
However, he added: ‘The scale of the challenge the sector faces cannot be underestimated.
Last week’s report from the [Institute for Public Policy Research] IPPR concludes that a five per cent annual increase in the mental health budget is absolutely necessary in order to achieve true parity with physical health.’
Richard Murray, director of policy at The King’s Fund, said: ‘Two billion pounds for mental health confirms the early signals that this would be a key priority for the forthcoming NHS long-term plan.
‘But years of underfunding have taken their toll and this is no more than a small step on the road to parity of esteem.
‘Mental health services need more than money to meet demand. A chronic shortage of mental health staff means that, despite the new funding, the service won’t improve until the Government and the NHS provide a plan to increase the workforce.’
Responding to the budget announcement, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said:
‘This morning, the health secretary said it will take a generation to achieve parity of esteem of mental health and refused to say whether the money was ring-fenced.
‘That money is only half of what leading mental health experts say is necessary.’