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Significant geographic variation in mental health spending, charity finds

Significant geographic variation in mental health spending, charity finds
By Valeria Fiore Reporter
16 May 2019

Sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and integrated care systems (ICSs) planned spending on mental health services varies significantly across England, research by mental health charity Mind has found.

The recent analysis revealed that some areas spend almost half as much per person on mental health compared to others.

This is despite NHS England’s commitment to invest £1.6bn in mental health by 2020/21 and the announcement of an extra £2.3bn a year by 2023/24 for these services as part of the long-term plan, the charity said.

Key figures

Mind analysed NHS data on STPs’ projected spend for the 2018/19 financial year, from the Mental Health Five Year Forward View Dashboard Q1 2018/19.

It specified that each individual area will report on how much they have spent when the Q4 data for the 2018/19 financial year is released.

Mind found that:

  • Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership is the area planning to spend the least on mental health, committing only 10% of its budget. This means it is expected to spend £124.48 per person per year
  • This is significantly lower than other areas’ planned spending – with South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw STP committing close to 17% of its budget to mental health. This is the equivalent of £220.63 per person per year – 44% higher than Surrey Heartlands
  • Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly STP is planning to spend £208 per head per year, while North Central London STP will invest £205 per head per year

A spokesperson for Surrey Heartlands said: ‘It is difficult to comment on the comparison with other STPs as there is some degree of variation in what is categorised as mental health spend in different areas.

‘Surrey Heartlands as an ICS has made significant investment in mental health through transformation funding in 2018/19 and similar plans are in place for 2019/20.’

According to NHS England, all CCGs are on track to meet the Mental Health Investment Standard (MHIS) in 2018/19, a first since the standard was launched in 2015.

The standard asks CCGs to ensure that they increase mental health spending at a higher percentage than the overall funding allocated to them by NHS England.

Last year, NHS England national mental health director Claire Murdoch wrote to CCGs to ask them to comply with MHIS by the end of March 2019.

‘The difference is huge’

Mind head of health policy and influencing Geoff Heyes said that although some variation in spending is to be expected, ‘the scale of the difference is huge, and we know that the need outstrips resource even in the areas that are performing well’.

He added: ‘These figures show that not all local commissioners are getting the message.

‘The NHS has rightly set itself even more ambitious targets in its long-term plan but this must translate into investment in mental health being prioritised in every single community.

‘As planning and budgeting beyond 2021 begins, we will be pushing at a local level to make sure this is the first thing on the agenda.’

An NHS England spokesperson said that an increasing number of people are being seen in time because of a growing overall spending on mental health and CCGs being on track to meet MHIS.

The spokesperson added: ‘Funding for mental health services will grow faster than the overall NHS budget over the next five years – with a new ringfenced local investment fund worth at least £2.3bn a year by 2023/24 helping an extra 345,000 young people and 370,000 more adults as part of the long-term plan.’


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