An important letter in The Guardian today:
The recent decision by NHS England and the health regulator Monitor to recommend cutting funding for mental health services by 20% more than that for acute hospitals completely contravenes the government’s promise to put mental and physical healthcare on an equal footing and will put lives at risk.
Following Mid Staffs, all NHS services were obliged to comply with the Francis report to improve care and safety for patients. NHS England funded the additional costs of implementing these recommendations, yet it withheld this from mental health services – creating a significant budget shortfall. Not only does this send out a disturbing and deeply disappointing message, it is likely to have far-reaching consequences for people with mental illness.
Mental health is chronically underfunded. It accounts for 28% of the disease burden, but gets just 13% of the NHS budget. Mental health services are straining at the seams and these new cuts will mean support is slashed in response to instructions from NHS England. This decision will cost much more in the long term as it will drive up admissions to A&E and the number of people reaching crisis and needing expensive hospital care.
Mid Staffs was one of the biggest tragedies the NHS has ever faced. People died because those in charge failed to respond to repeated warnings that things were going wrong. Let’s not make the same mistake twice. Time is running out; we urge NHS England and Monitor to do the right thing and resolve this issue swiftly.
Sean Duggan Chief executive, Centre for Mental Health, Jenny EdwardsCEO, Mental Health Foundation, Stephen Dalton Chief executive, Mental Health Network, Paul Farmer CEO, Mind, Mark Winstanley CEO, Rethink Mental Illness, Professor Sue Bailey President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists