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Funding pressures are increasing waiting times for mental health services, CCGs say


By Léa Legraien
21 December 2018

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Budget squeezes are putting increasing strain on mental health services across the country, CCGs have said.

In a King’s Fund survey that received responses from 43 CCG finance leads representing 53 CCGs, 51% said that funding pressures have led to longer waiting times for patients with a mental health issue in need of treatment.

The survey forms part of a quarterly report published today by the think tank, looking at the changes and challenges within the health system.

Longer waiting times

More than half (51%) of the CCG finance leads who responded to the survey said that a lack of funding means that mental health patients have had to wait longer to access treatment over the past two years.

In addition, the respondents said that financial pressures have prompted mental health services to cut back on the number and length of contacts offered to patients as well as reduce a range of treatments recommended by NICE due to an inability to fund them.

Key report findings:

  • 47% of the CCGs responding to the survey said they’re expecting to delay or cancel their spending plans to ‘support their end-of-year position’ for 2018/19.
  • 74% of CCG respondents are considering increasing the number of so-called low-value treatments and prescriptions that are not funded.
  • 63% of CCG finance leads feel pessimistic about the state of their healthcare finances over the next 12 months.
  • 35% of CCG finance leads believe that patient care has worsened in their area in the last 12 months.

Not enough funding

In the 2018 budget, chancellor Philip Hammond announced an additional £2bn a year for mental health services by 2023/24, as part of the £20.5bn funding boost for the NHS. More details will be available in the upcoming NHS 10-year plan.

Although he welcomed the extra funding, Siva Anandaciva, lead author of the report and chief analyst at The King’s Fund, argued that it ‘will not be enough for the NHS to do everything that is asked of it’.

He said: ‘Despite increased investment and a stronger national focus on the sector in recent years services are under huge pressure, making it harder for people to get access to the high-quality care they need.

‘It is clear that the reality for patients is still a long way from the rhetoric of political and service leaders.

‘Across the NHS as a whole, services continue to miss financial and performance targets, with thousands of people waiting too long for treatment and workforce shortages posing a threat to the quality of patient care.’

 

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