Mental health budgets 'still being cut despite pledge'
Mental health trusts in England are still having their budgets cut, despite government assurances they would be funded on a par with physical healthcare, figures suggest
Analysis by the King's Fund think tank, seen and reported by BBC News, suggests 40% of the 58 trusts saw budgets cut in 2015-16. It found six of them had seen budgets cut three years in a row.
An NHS spokeswoman said mental health services were "wider" than trusts, and care was funded in other ways. Mental health spending overall was up 8.4% in 2015/16 compared to the previous year, the NHS said.
Last year, for the first time, NHS commissioners in England were instructed to increase money for mental health, in line with increases in their own budgets - something called "parity of esteem".
King's Fund chief executive Chris Ham said: "Cuts in mental health services are just as risky as cuts in acute hospital services. We are talking about people in crisis who need expert support in a timely way. If they don't get it, it's bad for them and their families - and for the communities in which they live. The crisis in mental health services is real and serious. We all need to wake up to that reality. Parity of esteem is a laudable ambition that hasn't been followed through in practice."
A spokeswoman for NHS Clinical Commissioners said: "Mental health trusts provide invaluable and critical services but it must be recognised that mental health service provision is wider than trusts.
"To get the best possible outcomes for their population, clinical commissioners are also investing in out-of-hospital care that focuses on prevention, recovery and community-based care.
"They are also looking at partnerships with voluntary and third-sector providers, and crucially investing in primary care mental health services."
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