Government accused of ’empty promises’ on mental health as NHS plans to slash funding

The Government has been accused of “empty promises” over boosting mental health provision as new figures reveal that half of local NHS bodies plan to slash spending on vital services.

Cash-strapped Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England said they will reduce the proportion of their budgets spent on offering mental health support in 2017/18, despite previous commitments from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt that spending would increase.

New figures show that 50 per cent of CCGs would see their mental health budgets squeezed next year, compared to 57 per cent in 2016/17 and 38 per cent the year before.

Theresa May has made high-profile pledges to improve mental health support and ensure it has parity with physical health, yet critics said she has presided over cuts to NHS budgets that are putting patients at risk.

Labour MP Luciana Berger, who obtained the data through freedom of information requests, said: “Theresa May claims to be committed to improving mental health but her cuts are harming mental health services.

“This is the second year in a row that half of our cash-strapped CCGs have not increased their proportion of spend on mental health.

“Ministers must ask themselves how long this can be allowed to go on for. They are overseeing a system which puts patients at risk and staff under unbearable pressure.

“Enough empty promises. At the very least Jeremy Hunt must urgently introduce a ringfence around mental health budgets.”

Full story in The Independent, 20 September 2017