MP says Chancellor’s Budget handout for mental health treatment is not enough

In 2016-17, 62 per cent of mental health trusts had less money to spend on patient care in real terms than they did in 2012, writes Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley.

This is despite the introduction of the Mental Health Investment Standard, which requires clinical commissioning groups to increase investment in mental health services in line with their overall increase in allocation each year.

Sir Kevin Barron MP

Sir Kevin Barron MP

After years of under-investment in mental health services, I believe the additional funding outlined at the Budget is a small step in the right direction.

However, it is still not good enough.

As the Health Foundation pointed out, this extra money will not be enough to make any serious inroads into the substantial unmet need.

The Institute for Public Policy Research has also said that mental health services would require more than twice the amount of the additional funds outlined.

The Government has repeatedly promised to give mental health the same priority as physical health, yet there are 4,500 fewer mental health nurses than in 2010 and a review of the Five Year Forward View has found that money intended for mental health services has been used to plug other NHS funding gaps in the wider NHS.

The King’s Fund has warned that a chronic shortage of mental health staff means that, despite new funding, the service won’t improve until ministers provide a plan to increase the workforce

Around 10 per cent of all posts in specialist mental health services are vacant, yet the Government has not outlined how much of the additional funding will be spent on the workforce.

I believe the Chancellor should have offered meaningful action to increase funding across mental health services and ring-fenced funds to ensure that money reaches the frontline, as Labour would.