According to recent research, mental health trusts in England have seen their budgets fall by more than 8% in real terms over the course of this parliament.
At the same time, referrals to community mental health teams, which help people avoid being admitted to hospital, have risen nearly 20%.
Care minister Norman Lamb said budgets were ‘not the full picture’ and that ‘mental health care is given through a range of services including the voluntary sector.’
Using Freedom of Information requests, annual reports and other extensive research, BBC News and Community Care compared the budgets of mental health trusts in England in 2010-11 with this year, 2014-15.
Analysis suggests that trusts have suffered a real terms cut of 8.25% – the equivalent of stripping £598m from their budgets. Some trusts like Pennine Care and Lincolnshire have seen funding increases, but most have suffered cuts – such as Leicestershire and West London which have seen above average losses. Data from 34 trusts showed community mental health budgets were cut by 4.9% in real terms during this parliament and figures from 29 trusts indicate referrals to those services have increased by 18.5% over the same period.
Norman Lamb said: ‘Funding for mental health has increased since last year but, for too long, mental health has lost out in local spending in many areas.’ He said the payment system in the NHS ‘disadvantaged mental health’ and that is why action is being taken, ‘including introducing new standards for mental health services that local areas will have to meet, just as there are for physical health services – this is backed by £80m investment. This week we’ve also announced a £1.25 billion funding boost for children and young people’s mental health.’