MENTAL health services in the UK are to receive a £2 billion a year package to better support those with mental health problems.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the package in the budget today.
The money – part of the £20billion a year NHS cash injection already announced – will help put a dedicated mental health team in every A&E and state school.
Announcing the funding Mr Hammond recognised the need for NHS funding to go to the front-line of services.
“Our NHS is the number one priority of the British people, and as we approach the 70th anniversary of its foundation, they had a right to know the scale of our commitment to it,” he told the House of Commons.
“But the British people also care that money invested in the NHS goes to the frontline and improvement in services, so we didn’t just hand over money, we agreed that the NHS would produce a 10 year plan setting out how the service will reform, how waste will be reduce and exactly what the British people can expect to get for their money.
“There are many pressing demands on additional NHS funding, but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer from mental illness.
“Today I can announce that the NHS ten year plan will include a new mental health crisis service, with comprehensive mental health support available in every major A&E, children and young person’s crisis teams in every part of the country, more mental health ambulances, more safe havens in the community and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.
“These new services will ensure that people suffering from a crisis, young or old, can get the help they need, ending the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence and ending the tragedy of too many lives lost to suicide.”
A further £650 million of grant funding will be made available to English local authorities for social care in 2019/20 and £45 will be available for disabled facilities in 2018/19.
Over the next five years £84 million will be made available to expand children’s social care facilities in a bid to cope with the rising number of children in care.
Mental health organisations have welcomed the announcement, but warned more may be needed to keep up with services for current patients.
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John Appleby, Nuffield Trust’s chief economist, said: “Confirmation that the Government will indeed give £20 billion more to NHS England by 2023 will bring a measure of relief to the hard-pressed service. But we must not get carried away.
“After a financial squeeze of many years, much of this new money will be needed just to get the basics back on track – keeping up with rising need, addressing sliding waiting times and fixing the worrying backlog of buildings needing repair.
“Our calculations show that after meeting the commitments already made to patients, only £500 million will be free next year for any improvements – less than a tenth of the headline increase.
“Meanwhile, the financial fate of the vital services on which the NHS relies on was once again left hanging today. While more money going into social care will be welcome, it is another short term fix to a system nobody seriously disputes is fundamentally broken.
“Troublingly, we heard no guarantees today about the budgets for hospital buildings, IT investments, training or public health.”
Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, added: “The prospect of an additional £2 billion of funding for mental health by 2023/24 is a welcome step on the journey towards true parity of esteem.
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“The scale of the challenge the sector faces cannot be underestimated.
“Last week’s report from the IPPR concludes that a five per cent annual increase in the mental health budget is absolutely necessary in order to achieve true parity with physical health.
“It is positive to see that specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be set up in every part of the country as we know how important it is to address mental illness as early as possible.
“However, we must keep our eyes on the immediate needs of our core inpatient and community mental health services, and we must also remember that social care, capital budgets and public health will need additional funding.”
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