Extra funding for mental health services is expected as part of the annual budget, which will be announced today
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced on Sunday that NHS mental health funding is expected to rise by at least £2bn a year. Expected to be included as part of the Budget which will be announced on Monday 29 October, Hammond is expected to outline the first stage of the long-term plan to achieve ‘parity of care’ between physical and mental health for those accessing the NHS.
Amongst the announcements, an additional £2bn a year is expected to be allocated to assist with mental health crisis services. This extra money is planned to be used to provide more comprehensive mental health support across major A&E departments within the NHS, as these are often where those experiencing a mental health crisis will turn for emergency support.
Funding is also expected to pay for specialist mental health ambulances that will help treat those with a number of mental illnesses, ensuring that they are treated as seriously as physical emergencies. The £2bn is also expected to cover community services for those with mental health problems, specialist crisis teams working with schools, social and young people’s mental health services, as well as teams in schools supporting those with mild to moderate mental health problems.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced an extra £20bn in real terms for NHS England by 2023-24 this June. Although £2bn is a sizeable increase to the existing £12bn a year currently spent on mental health services in England, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has expressed concern that this is only half what is needed to put spending more on par with that of physical health.
While promises of increased spending to support and increase vital mental health services across England are welcomed by many, Hammond also stressed that the announced budget will be a contingent of the government securing a Brexit deal with the EU. In the event of no deal, Hammond may return to parliament with an emergency budget. In contrast, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that the overall figure was guaranteed “whatever the Brexit outcome”.
The £2bn cash injection hopes to ensure that those experiencing a mental health crisis in England will be able to receive more rapid specialist help as it is needed.
Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer commented on the announcement:
“NHS mental health services have been underfunded for decades and we know that too often, people don't get the help and support they need, when they need it. This commitment ahead of the long-term plan indicates that mental health is rightly high on the Government's agenda, and has the potential to improve access to care, once detailed plans are clear.
“People with mental health problems tell us that support from other parts of Government are also vital. We are still seeking reassurance from the Government that nobody who needs support from benefits because their mental health makes it difficult to work will lose their income in the move over to Universal Credit. This has not yet been forthcoming.
“Under current plans, more than three million people will be forced to reapply within as little as a month. Many will struggle to go through this complex process, and could be left without any financial support.
“If the government is really intent on prioritising the nation's mental health, it needs to guarantee nobody with mental health problems will be left without their income as a result of moving to Universal Credit.”
The full budget, which will be broadcast live from 3.30pm on 29 October 2018 is expected to include:
- £60m allocation for tree planting
- nearly £1bn increased budget for adult social care
- an increase in spending on Universal Credit
- proposals to help struggling families access interest-free loans
If you are worried about your own mental health or the wellbeing of a loved one, visit Counselling Directory to find out more about accessing immediate help, starting your journey with a counsellor, and how to support a loved one.
If you feel as though you have no options right now or are in immediate danger of harming yourself, call 999 or go to your nearest A&E department where trained medical staff are available to help.
If you need help and support you can call your GP’s surgery to speak to someone about how you are feeling. The Samaritans are also available to speak 24/7 for free on 116 123. The person on the other end of the line will not know who you are, won’t judge you or tell others about how you are feeling. They are there to listen anytime by phone, email, SMS, or letter.