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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Pushing for parity on ‘All in the Mind’

Thursday 8 May 2014 

 

‘Are mental health services in crisis?’ That was the question asked by Radio 4 presenter Claudia Hammond when Martin McShane from NHS England, Norman Lamb MP (Minister for Care and Support) and I aired our views on the All in the Mind discussion programme.

 

And it proved to be quite a discussion. I talked about my fears that mental health is heading towards its own Stafford Hospital style scandal, pointing out that there is growing evidence from psychiatrists across the specialty that it was reaching a tipping point, plus of course the information about cuts revealed by recent  Freedom of Information requests by the BBC and Rethink.

 

In particular, I highlighted the cuts to child mental health services - which have seen children being placed many miles from home in order to obtain a bed - and that early intervention in psychosis services were being cut to the detriment of children, and of society as a whole.

 

In response to the presenter’s query about the disparity between physical and mental health cuts, Martin McShane stated that the decision to make these cuts would not be reversed. I was disappointed to see him argue that the percentage difference was small – in the context of billions of pounds, even a small percentage difference means tens of millions of pounds nationally. More importantly, this represents funding for acute services (but not mental health services or community services) to implement the recommendations of the Francis report.

 

It’s worth remembering that NHS England and Monitor originally said that these recommendations only applied to the acute sector (see p87 of the National Tariff Payment System doc), but seem to have changed their argument since Robert Francis himself confirmed that the implementation should apply to all sectors (at one point denying that there even were any cuts) In any event, the words of the Prime Minister from March 19th’s Prime Minister’s Questions (see column 775) were ringing in my ears – when asked about mental health funding he pointedly replied that “...the money is there, the legal priority is there; we need the health service to respond”.

 

More positively, Norman Lamb expressed the view during All in the Mind that the difference between cuts to mental health and physical health cuts was “one of many examples of how mental health does not get treated equally”.

 

He added: “NHS England is held to account by the Mandate...the Mandate says very clearly that NHS England must make measureable progress towards achieving parity of esteem by 2015 and I keep repeating that they must do that...There is a legal force behind the Mandate and there is no doubt at all... that that decision by NHS England undermines the Government’s clear objective to achieve parity between physical health and mental health.”

 

I am profoundly grateful to Norman Lamb for consistently speaking up for mental health and learning disability services on this issue, and I was heartened to hear him reiterate his concerns so unequivocally. And NHSE and Monitor don’t just have to worry about being held to account via the NHS Mandate (and maybe even the Prime Minister it seems), but can also expect me to keep voicing these concerns when I take up my role as chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

 

Sue

 

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Comments

Re: Pushing for parity on ‘All
Dear Professor Bailey,

I have just read your article about parity and the funding for mental healthcare. I am a final year medical student and have enjoyed keeping up to speed with the RCPsych blog. It occurred to me when reading this article about parity of mental healthcare whether there is an alternative for accessing funding. For example community engagement and support, involving communities to support and fund for local mental health hospital or service. I am unsure if this currently takes place but having been in a few mental health trusts, raising money to make them feel more homely and less tired at least is a step in the right direction. I think getting local communities involved could both raise awareness, funding and support for those affected.

Take care,

Michael
Re: Pushing for parity on ‘All
Dear Professor Bailey,

I have just read your article about parity and the funding for mental healthcare. I am a final year medical student and have enjoyed keeping up to speed with the RCPsych blog. It occurred to me when reading this article about parity of mental healthcare whether there is an alternative for accessing funding. For example community engagement and support, involving communities to support and fund for local mental health hospital or service. I am unsure if this currently takes place but having been in a few mental health trusts, raising money to make them feel more homely and less tired at least is a step in the right direction. I think getting local communities involved could both raise awareness, funding and support for those affected.

Take care,

Michael
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