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Half of mental health providers report funding freeze or cuts

A promised increase in funding for mental health services is failing to reach nearly half of England’s frontline providers, according to new research.

A survey of finance directors at mental health trusts by the NHS Providers and the Healthcare Financial Management association found only 52% of providers had received a real term increase in funding for their services in 2015/16.

More than half of England’s mental health trusts responded to the survey, as well as 10% of the country’s CCGs.

NHS Providers director of policy and strategy Saffron Cordery said: ‘Necessary investment is not reaching frontline NHS trusts. These are the very organisations that are facing increasing levels of demand and pressure on their resources, whilst needing to provide the most essential urgent and long term care.’

The survey also found that providers had limited confidence that funding increases will be delivered this year, with just a quarter of providers saying they were confident their commissioners would increase the value of their contracts in 2016/17.

A report accompanying the survey said that the Government’s commitment to ‘parity of esteem’ between mental health and physical health services was being undermined and called for greater clarity and transparency from government and better enforcement and support for local organisations.

It said: ’Both national and local level organisations are interpreting the requirements in different ways, which is leading to a patchwork of investment and services for patients.’

The Government announced a headline £1 billion uplift in mental health budgets earlier this year. The funding is expected to come out of existing CCG budgets.

Frontline mental health services in some parts of the country are facing cuts, despite the Government’s pledge to increase budgets.

In April, a mental health trust in Manchester announced that it had been forced to cut seven frontline community services in a bid to save £1 million.

Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MHSC) proposed the cuts in October and, despite a huge public outcry, decided to push through with plans.

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