Spending on mental health should double to £23.9bn by the end of 2030/31 to achieve full parity between physical and mental health, a think tank has suggested.
A report, Fair Funding for Mental Health, by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank and a letter to Theresa May signed by the chief executives of 15 leading mental health organisations – both released yesterday – have called for the Government to increase spending on mental health.
Following Ms May’s recent announcement that the Government is adding an extra £20.5bn by 2024 to the NHS budget, the IPPR is suggesting that to achieve ‘full parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health, mental health spending needs to increase from £12bn in 2017/18 to £16.1bn in 2023/24 and £23.9bn in 2030/31.
The extra money would allow for improvements to quality of care across all areas of mental health services, according to the IPPR.
If this suggestion was adopted, mental health funding would grow by around 5.5% a year over the next decade.
Mental health gets only 11% of the NHS budget, ‘despite accounting for 23% of the disease burden’, according to the report.
Mental Health Network chief executive Sean Duggan, one of the chief executives who signed the letter to Theresa May, said the report comes ‘at the right time’ as the NHS prepares to publish its long-term plan.
He said: ‘We were happy to support the letter to the Prime Minister calling for a 5% annual increase in the mental health budget, which we believe is realistic and absolutely necessary.’
‘Parity of esteem’
Among other suggestions, the IPPR report said the Government should adopt a definition for ‘parity of esteem’,
The think tank interprets this as ‘people living with a mental health condition must have an equal chance of a long and fulfilling life to those with a physical health condition’.
The think tank asked for the NHS long-term plan to endorse and commit to this definition.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Parity between mental and physical health is a key priority for this Government, which is why we are transforming services with record amounts of funding and have introduced the first ever waiting time standards for mental health.’
The NHS long-term plan will explain how the Government will continue working to achieve parity of esteem, the spokesperson added.
Additional funding required
The Government should also consider allocating £500m per year for workforce development, £400m for capital investment and £1.1bn for social care.
Mental health minister Jackie Doyle-Price revealed last month that 23,686 mental health staff quit hospital trusts and CCGs between June 2017 and May 2018 – around 1,974 a month.
Mr Duggan added: ‘Workforce development and capital budgets are also vital – while public health and social care, which are so closely allied to NHS services, will need funding uplifts if we are to support recovery and keep people well.’