Fears sparked as a widening funding gap between acute hospitals and mental health care providers emerges

Topics covered: funding, Kings Fund, Mental Health, NHS, NHS England

The King’s Fund recently published a report which showed a widening funding gulf between acute hospitals and mental health trusts.  The slow rate of funding growth for mental health trusts and the preferential use of the Sustainability and Transformation Fund to stabilise financial and operational performance has widened the funding gap between NHS mental health and acute providers.

According to the report, the funding allocated for mental health trusts has not kept pace with that allocated for services provided by NHS acute providers. National funding has focused on relieving pressure on acute hospitals whereas there has been a slow funding growth on NHS mental health providers. Reasons suggested in the report include mental health providers focusing on transforming care and restricting services to reduce costs, which has in turn resulted in ‘increased variations in care and reduced access to services’.

Moreover, CQC reports from 54 mental health trusts across the country were analysed and found that more than half of these organisations had an increased risk to patients due to staffing problems. Providing good treatment and care relies on a good workforce and investment. This is quite worrying stressing the need for urgent action.

The Government may need to do more to tackle the inequality between mental health and acute providers and also the injustice faced by those experiencing mental health problems. In recent years, there has been progress in discussing the seriousness of mental health issues in society, however, the Government’s goal to achieve parity between physical and mental health will only be achieved if the two are also in par in regards to funding.

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