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GPs go forth

57 CCGs underspend mental health budgets despite overall increase

Exclusive More than a quarter of CCGs have underspent their mental health budget for 2016/17, amounting to a total of £48.6m not reaching mental health services.

A comparison by Pulse of every CCGs’ projected and actual spend on mental health, as it’s laid out in NHS England’s ‘mental health dashboard’, revealed that 57 CCGs had underspent their mental health budget to a total of £48.6.

Despite the underspend at a CCG level, NHS England overall exceeded its mental health budget, spending £9.72bn on a budget of £9.49bn.

This is largely due to CCGs like Nottingham City and South Devon and Torbay which spent an extra £14.6m and £16m on their budget respectively.

But, elsewhere, NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG underspent its mental health budget by £3.9m with a planned spend of £51.5m but an actual spend of £47.6m.

Rebecca Hulme, chief nurse at NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, told Pulse the underspend occured because of a reduction in the amount that the CCG spent on the NHS's continuing healthcare scheme.

The NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) scheme provides eligible patients with free care in their home after they leave hospital.

Ms Hume said some patients left the CHC scheme to access other pots of funding 'which meet their needs more effectively, such as personal health budgets or social care funding'.

She said: 'We regularly review all patients who receive CHC in line with national guidance. It is not possible to know in advance who will still be eligible and who will not, which is why the amount we estimate we will spend at the start of each year when we put together our budget can sometimes change.'

NHS Isle of Wight CCG’s underspend amounted to £3.7m but a breakdown of the money provided to Pulse by the CCG said their was an error in the CCG’s 2016/17 financial plan, ‘where £2.8m of expenditure was added twice’.

A statement from the CCG said: ‘NHS England were made aware of this at the Month 3 (June 2016) reporting period.'

The underspend comes as a Pulse investigation into projected spend for the year revealed that CCGs in South Sefton, Scarborough, Isle of Wight, St Helens and Walsall would collectively spend £4.5m less in 2017/18 than they spent on services in 2016/17.

The 'mental health dashboard' released every quarter by NHS England, details how much commissioners are spending on various aspects of mental health, including young people’s mental health and suicide prevention.

The latest fourth-quarter dashboard includes the final amount CCGs spent on mental health in 2016/17.

Pulse compared these figures with the CCGs’ projected mental health spend found in the third-quarter dashboard released at the end of May and found the underspend.

NHS England was forced to retract the mental health dashboard that was released in July after they said they ‘spotted an error within the financial outturn data’.

However, the dashboard re-released yesterday by chief executive Simon Stevens at NHS England’s Health and Care Innovation Expo includes the same figures for the 57 CCGs that underspent.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said the spending data was ‘disappointing’.

He told Pulse: ‘This is yet another sign of CCGs not really using the resources that they’ve got and prioritising community based services when we need every single penny spent and invested in general practice and community services.

‘It’s really disappointing that CCGs are not doing that and still preferentially investing in hospitals, rather than investing in the community.’

NHS England did not comment on the CCGs which had underspent their budgets, focusing instead on the overall spending figure.

A spokesperson said: 'It’s ridiculous and entirely incorrect to suggest mental health spending is under budget when we have quite clearly spent more on mental health as a percentage, and in absolute terms, and overspent by £230m on what has been budgeted by for the whole of the country.

'We are proud once again to have met our commitment to increase mental health funding, with 85% of all CCGs meeting or exceeding the publicly recognised and respected Mental Health Investment Standard.'



Readers' comments (5)

  • Vinci Ho

    Without figures on 'outcomes' , it is perhaps fair to say 'difficult to judge'. Anecdotally, we ,GPs , all have stories to tell about how poor certain parts of the local mental health system were . Waiting time , lack of access and poor interventions. The priority of 'getting it right as soon as possible' should override ambiguous rhetorics like improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness. And don't give me 'efficiency saving' or 'magic money tree' again!

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  • And the money will go back to the Treasury of course.

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  • Leaves more bonuses and 'funding' for the f***d up- establishment, Thank you Tories - the ordinary folks will sing psalms in your glory when the system collapses.
    By the way, 3 young people try to commit suicide in one Surgery in one Christmas season but NHSE reduces funding saying young people don't need care.
    ''You have high prevalence of depression
    (ie 3.5 times the national average) because you are diagnosing too much.''
    So of 1000 new patients we'll pay you only for 400.
    Can you have a more screwed up 'world class system' like that anywhere else on planet Earth?

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  • The perpetrators will be indicted at some stage but as is the rule in this country- a paedophile is jailed only at least after 30 years have passed or an investigation like Hillsborough takes longer to get a verdict.
    How long would it take to book a member of the establishment, only time will tell. Problem is you have to get the facts first but with blanket ban on GPs accessing Open Exeter, HSCIC and NHS Digital - NHSE/CCG can say anything and blame any of these for any misdoings without disclosing any emails or information thus covering own misdeeds.

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  • This really isn't that surprising. At the beginning of the financial year CCGs set their budgets. They make an educated guess as to what they will spend in each area. At the end of the year some of these areas will be overspent and some will be underspent. This is not a conspiracy, it just reflects the difficulty of predicting what you'll spend.

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