Former Care Services Minister Paul Burstow, speaking at Public Service Events’ Mental Health: from Strategy to Reality conference on March 14th revealed worries about the level of funding being used for mental health in ENgland. While praising progress made by the Coalition government, he told delegates: “2 in 5 mental health trusts in England admit have staffing levels below Department of Health benchmarks.” Writing for The Telegraph newspaper on the same day he claimed: “The NHS default remains stubbornly biased towards physical health. A terrible false economy at the expense of people’s lives. Depressingly, in 2011/12 spending fell by 1%. Crisis resolution and assertive outreach both saw reduction, and while half the country protected spending, the other half made deep cuts… Dig deeper and you find huge variation from one part of the country to another. Previously unpublished data from the 2011/12 investment survey reveals that spending ranges from £315 per head to just £97.91 per head. The average spend is £166. These are figures reveal yet another postcode lottery.”
Burstow was announcing his appointment as of chair an independent commission by the think tank, Centre Forum. The commission will report next year.
Paul Jenkins of Rethink Mental Illness issued a statement in support of Burstow saying: “These figures highlight how patchy mental health care is across the country. Just 10 per cent of people with severe mental illness are currently being offered talking therapies for example. We have supporters who have sat on NHS waiting lists years for this basic treatment, which should be available to everyone who needs it.”
According to a Care Quality Commission update published on 12th March, in the first nine months of 2012/13, the CQC found that mental health and learning disability services struggled to maintain adequate staffing levels: in 104 inspections 80% services met the standard. This compared with 91% of inspections in the whole of 2011/12.
This news story appears in the Spring edition of ONEinFOUR magazine. Subcriptions cast just £10.00GBP for 4 quarterly issues.