The NHS has “committed to increasing mental health funding as a share of the overall budget over the next five years”, the Treasury has said, and announced that work to achieve “parity of esteem” will be the “first stage of the NHS long-term plan”.
Health Service Journal reports that chancellor Philip Hammond will say that the NHS will “increase mental health investment by at least £2bn a year in real terms by 2023-24”, a statement said ahead of the Budget.
This will be paid for from within the 3.4% average real terms NHS funding growth for the next five years announced in the summer by the prime minister, totalling about £20bn in real terms. If the same growth rate is applied to current mental health spending, it would result in an increase of about £2bn over the period.
This would mean keeping mental health’s share of the total about the same as at present. In recent years the NHS has under the “mental health investment standard” aimed to keep mental health’s share at at least the same level - a commitment it has largely met at a national level, though not within some specific clinical commissioning groups.
In a report published last week the Institute for Public Policy Research said that to achieve parity of esteem, mental health spending neeedd to increase from £12bn in 2017-18 to £16.1bn in 2023-24 and £23.9bn in 2030-31.
The Treasury statement ahead of the Budget said improving crisis care would be a priority for the new funding. It said it would go towards:
- Providing mental health support in every major A&E department - already a high profile major commitment for the NHS
- 24/7 mental health crisis services in NHS 111
- More specialist mental health ambulances
- Crisis services in the community
- Specialist crisis teams for children and younger people will be set up in every part of the country
- More than 55,000 adults with severe mental illness will be helped by the NHS to find employment through a work placement and support scheme
NHS England’s Five Year Forward View for Mental Health implementation plan said that by 2020-21 all areas in England would provide crisis resolution and home treatment teams. In August 2018, HSJ reported that just one out of 180 crisis resolution teams in England was meeting national standards for access and staffing.
The Treasury statement said: “The NHS has now committed to increasing mental health funding as a share of the overall budget over the next five years. Further work is underway on mental health as part of the NHS long-term plan.”
The government announced five-year spending totals for the NHS England budget in the summer, and also indicated it would consider improved funding settlements for NHS capital spending, education and training, social care and public health.
It is unclear whether spending decisions for any of these will be announced in today’s Budget or not until the spending review next year.