Magazine article Public Finance

Mental Health Services Are 'Soft Target' for Cuts

Magazine article Public Finance

Mental Health Services Are 'Soft Target' for Cuts

Article excerpt

Significant cuts to frontline mental health services look inevitable as providers have been judged a soft target for NHS efficiency savings, Public Finance has learnt.

Concern arose after the foundation trust watchdog Monitor revised its funding forecasts for the NHS bodies it oversees, asking mental health providers to plan for cuts of up to 5% every year until 2015 from next month. This was up from original 'downside' assumptions of 4%-4.5% made before March's Budget.

The reductions are higher than those suggested for acute services. In a letter to foundation trusts earlier this month. Monitor said the mental health and acute sectors faced 'a different set of risks'. It said previous recessions had hit mental health funding more than other areas.

But Paul Jenkins, chief executive of mental health charity Rethink, told PF: 'Historically, mental health services have been a soft touch for cuts. But it's completely false logic to ratchet that into the future. There's no greater resilience in mental health services than in acute services... In this case someone has looked unthinkingly at the data.'

He warned that cuts of 5% could lead to the slashing of frontline community services and early inventions for those with illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. …

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