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Budget 2018: What will the £2bn funding boost mean for mental health services?

 

Woman sitting on sofa drinking tea

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced that mental health services in the UK will receive a £2bn funding boost during his budget proposal on Monday 29th October. The funding is expected to come into fruition in 2019-20 and be used to provide 24/7 mental health support in every A&E department across the country, pay for more mental health ambulances, community services and services to support young people, especially in the school setting.

Mental health provision is something that has been repeatedly criticized for being underfunded, so it is a welcome step forward to see that additional funds are being allocated. With 1 in 4 people being affected by a mental health condition, it is clear that greater action is needed to support the citizens of our country.

The NHS as a whole is set to see an increase in budget, with a spend of £6bn a year. The £2bn given to mental health services means that mental health takes the greatest proportion of the funds. This suggests that the government is beginning to understand the scale of the issue and the impact on individual’s lives that mental health problems can have.

Since 2012, the government has been talking of creating equal service provision for mental and physical health. The fact that with this new funding individuals will be able to access mental health support 24/7 is a fantastic step in this direction. However, there is still a long way to go. The Institute of Public Policy Research thinktank has said they believe that the money promised is only half of what is needed to achieve equality between mental and physical health treatment.

Health Exchange CEO, Ron Owttrim, had the following comments about the announcement:

“The announcement to increase Mental Health spending in the budget ahead of the NHS long-term plan is welcome as it indicates that mental health is higher on the Government’s agenda. The increase in spending has the potential to improve access to care, and we will understand more once detailed plans have been published. Mental health services must continue to be priority across the whole of the NHS, and we need to see continued significant investment in areas such as prevention, primary care and mental health support for people with long-term physical health conditions.

This increase is a good first step but be we can’t “rest on our laurels” we need to keep pushing for parity in health spending, so organisations like Health Exchange can provide more localised community based services to more people when they need it, if we don’t they are likely to become more unwell, need more expensive and intensive support and this will only put more pressure on the NHS further down the line.”

Our frontline staff see first-hand the kind of positive impact mental health support can have on people’s lives. When asked about his thoughts on the new budget, Health Exchange Triage Practitioner, Antonios, said:

I feel that it is fantastic as it can largely influence and enrich mental health projects (such as Improving Access to Psychological Therapy programmes) while perhaps nationally establish other pilot projects (such as our Mental Health Treatment Requirement project).  I can really see that the government’s investment will be positively reflected in the public and can shape lives.”

As a social enterprise, Health Exchange has always been an advocate for accessible mental health services. We welcome this new commitment from our government to tackle the significant funding gap in services. We look forward to seeing how this will be translated into meaningful action.

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