Responding to the Spending Review

This is a critical time for mental health investment. The pandemic has resulted in much higher levels of need, and a record number of patients being referred to mental health services.

Meanwhile, the planned introduction of mental health access standards and reform of the Mental Health Act mean that services are likely to become ever more stretched, without adequate investment.

That is why we have been working hard to influence the 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), which outlines the Government’s spending plans for England over a three-year period (2022 – 2025).

In our submission to the Treasury, we called for:

  • £4.9bn of COVID-19 recovery funding for mental health services over the next three years, including to bolster workforce numbers after years of chronic shortages
  • £3bn to address the woeful state of mental health hospitals and facilities, plus £1bn for day-to-day running of the mental health estate, to ensure existing hospitals are safe.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak stood in Parliament to deliver the conclusions of the 2021 CSR on Wednesday 27 October. Alongside the reaffirmation of the dormitory eradication investment, relevant announcements included:

  • £150m in NHS mental health facilities linked to A&E and to enhance patient safety in mental health units
  • £95m for the Office for Life Sciences to launch the Prime Minister’s healthcare missions, which includes mental health
  • £66m for the Start for Life offer for families, which includes parent-infant mental health support
  • £5m Veterans’ Health Innovation Fund to help veterans who have suffered physical injury or mental health challenges access treatment.

While these are welcome pledges, we are disappointed that the Government did not go further and seriously invest in mental health. After years of underinvestment and growing waiting lists, spending announcements fall short of the need.

We will continue to make the case for further essential investment in capital, services, and workforce, alongside parity of esteem between physical and mental health services. With discussions ongoing about Health Education England’s share of the Department of Health and Social Care’s budget, we will be clear that service plans are not deliverable without the requisite workforce. An increase in NHS England and Improvement’s resource budget also provides an opportunity for us to argue for investment in mental health services.

Looking further ahead, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has promised a forthcoming mental health strategy. We will campaign to ensure this is ambitious and backed with appropriate funding.

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