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

Worrying news..and good news

Tuesday, 1 May

Last week, I was very concerned to read an article in the HSJ, titled: ‘SHA's plans “disgraceful” mental health cuts to boost cancer care'. According to the report, NHS London has asked staff to plan for a cut of nearly two-thirds in its mental health research and analysis budget (from £3.5m down to £1.3m) to make up a shortfall on cancer budgets.

All yesterday, we were trying to verify the accuracy of this story, to find out when a decision is likely to be taken and, if the story is accurate, what can be done to remedy it.

We all understand the huge challenges faced by NHS organisations to deliver all that is expected of them. But can you imagine the public outcry if it was the other way round – if money was being taken off cancer services, audit and research to fund mental health services?

We all have huge respect for cancer services, and recognise the need for timely treatment. But not at the expense of mental health services. What is the point of gaining parity of esteem for mental health and physical health services through the new Health and Social Care Act, if it means nothing in practice?

As you know, I am a tempered person who always seeks solutions to problems. But this is a very concerning situation and it’s important we speak out. I will update you as I hear more.

On a more positive note, at the end of last week I read through the 2012/2013 MPET (Multi Professional Education and Training) budget Service Level Agreement between the Department of Health and Strategic Health Authorities.

The agreement states that SNA should indicate what plans they are putting in place to provide at least 22.5% of F1 doctors with a four-month F1 placement in psychiatry from August 2013, and 22.5% of F2 doctors from August 2014.

This is great news for recruitment to our profession, and great news for patients.


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