United Kingdom

Budget promise to increase mental health spending may not go far enough

November 2018

NHS mental health services in England will receive an extra £2bn in funding by 2023-24 which will see the introduction of a Mental Health Crisis Service along with ‘comprehensive’ support available in every large A&E department, Chancellor Phillip Hammond revealed in his budget on Monday.

During his budget speech, Mr. Hammond acknowledged there was a real need to address mental health provision within the NHS and pledged the creation of new services to ensure that those suffering from crisis would get the helped they needed.

Among the services the government have pledged to spend the extra money on, community services for people with mental health problems and specialist crisis teams linking schools, social services and young people’s mental health services will benefit.

“There are many pressing demands on additional NHS funding but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer mental illness,” he said. “Today I can announce that the NHS 10-year plan will include a new mental health crisis service with comprehensive mental health support available in every major A&E, a children and young people’s crisis team in every part of the country, more mental health ambulances, more safe havens in the community and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.”

Matthew Lawrence, chief broking officer for health & benefits at Aon welcomed the ‘high level announcement’ for its focus on addressing mental health issues and attempt at removing stigma, but warned that it failed to match spending on physical health.

IPPR researcher Harry Quilter-Pinner told The Guardian that the government needed to commit ‘twice as much’ to mental health spending (£4.1bn by 2023-24) if they were to deliver treatment rates ‘equivalent to those available for comparable physical health conditions.’

Meanwhile, Lawrence urged the government to ensure that the Mental Health Crisis Service was ‘considered and managed’ as there was a danger that mental health ambulances could actually result in more stigma.

"The Chancellor's support for mental health does help keep it close to the top of the employer agenda. Expectation for employers to do more in this area will increase, so they need to think about their role in effectively supporting poor and good mental health," he added.


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