A Freedom of Information (FoI) request made by the Labour Party has revealed that £1.5 million could be cut from Manchester’s mental health budget next year.
Manchester Evening News reports that – despite the government handing an extra £40m to city health bosses – North, South and Central Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) plan to cut the proportion spent on mental health services by around 1%.
The CCGs commission hospital, primary care, community and mental health services across the city. Their combined budgets are due to increase from £714.4m to £753.9m in the next budget year – an average of 5.5%.
The government has said that mental health must have parity with physical health – and the budget cut is in direct contravention of government policy on mental health spending.
Central Manchester also has the longest wait for mental health services in the country – a total of 104.5 days.
Nearly one-quarter of Mancunians have a common mental health disorder –
however, health commissioners say the cut comes after years of investment and will not affect the “neediest”.
NHS England guidance says that spending on mental health services should rise “at least” in line with budget increases.
Shadow public health minister Luciana Berger said:
“At a time when experts are warning of a growing crisis in mental health, this is of grave concern. Ministers repeatedly promised that the amount spent on mental health locally would increase in line with local CCG budgets.
“Yet they have failed to make this a reality – and too many CCGs actually plan to spend less of their budget on mental health this year.”
A spokesman for the CCGs said:
“Manchester’s spending on mental health services is well above the national average – and among the highest in the country as a proportion of CCG budgets.
“The reduction also follows a prolonged period of year-on-year growth in investment in mental health services, so any apparent reduction is from a higher base level, which makes comparisons misleading.
“Where savings have been found, these did not relate to contracted spending – or in the main with our NHS providers – but addressing the cost effectiveness of more expensive spending with external providers and will not affect those most in need.”
It is reported that health bosses hope more funding for mental health services to mitigate the funding reduction will be available from other sources before next April.
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